RIDEM: No need to be alarmed about foxes

RIDEM: No need to be alarmed about foxes

A fox trots along Alaska Street in Cumberland recently. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

CUMBERLAND – Numerous Cumberland residents have reported seeing foxes roaming local streets over the past few weeks, prompting some to ask whether they should be concerned about letting their pets outside.

Several residents have posted pictures of foxes with the accompanying suggestion that foxes might be more visible because all the home construction happening around town is forcing them from their homes.

Charlie Brown, principal wildlife biologist for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, said it’s not that unusual for foxes to be active during daylight hours, but they tend to be more active at night.

“If you are seeing a distinct pattern, in the same place, same time, etc., it might suggest there is particular food source nearby that they are utilizing,” he said. “People do sometimes feed them, or other animals, attracting foxes, coyotes (and other animals) as a consequence.”

Many of the fox sightings, according to social media postings, have been in the areas just north and south of Route 295, including Lippitt Estates and Monastery Heights.

Brown said he would not generally consider foxes to pose a very high risk of attacking either pets or people. Adult foxes weigh between 10 and 15 pounds.

“That’s not to say that it hasn’t or couldn’t happen,” he said. “They can get rabies, as can any mammal, so it is always something to be considerate of.”

The best way to respond or react to a sighting or encounter is to yell or take an aggressive stance or posture toward the foxes, said Brown.

“Foxes, like some other species, have become quite successful in suburban and urban environments and are often exposed to humans on a daily basis. Sometimes they become casual or even brazen, especially if they are not being hunted or trapped,” he said. “Best thing is to establish ‘boundaries’ as to what is acceptable or not and how you react to them when they are in your yard is a way to do that. Also, eliminate possible food sources, usually the underlying cause of the problem.”