Park Point fox too friendly?

Last night we had a very interesting encounter with a sweet little fox. The fox went to run in front of our truck and then changed it’s mind and cowered on the side of the road. I then grabbed out my handy dandy camera to photograph him. At first he was a little farther away and as I was snapping away he started running at me! I was actually a bit scared and I hurried up and hopped in my truck. He didn’t leave, he lingered right by our truck. It seemed like he needed or wanted something from us. I was wondering if he was hungry and looking for food. I felt that the situation was abnormal. Thoughts?



about 10 years ago

Oddly enough, I had this same experience two days ago right across from Portland Square. 

I was walking down 4th street toward Skihut, when a fox came out from behind two buildings. I kept walking towards it and it didn't seem concerned that I was approaching it. 

It kept on it's heading, between two vehicles and across the street. I walked out into the street to take a picture, approaching it closer than before and it still did not try to avoid me. 

It just crossed the street diagonally, travelling towards a person walking on the other side of the street and then went up into the park to forage for something. 

I know foxes are less skittish than wolves, but I have never seen one approach humans so closely while not seeming to care about our presence.

[email protected]

about 10 years ago

What you are worried about is called "habituation" I think -- the ways that wildlife become comfortable around people.  The problem is, wildlife becomes comfortable around people, but people never become comfortable with wildlife, so habituated animals are often perceived as "nuisance" animals.

If you see this fox again and you believe it might be placing itself or others in danger, visit the Wildwoods page to ask for help.


about 10 years ago

I was gardening in my side yard Saturday morning and had a similar encounter.  While I was sitting on the ground the fox trotted down the sidewalk and as soon as it saw me it stopped and without much hesitation it approached within 5 feet of me. My impulse to hold out my hand was squelched by the realization this was a wild animal, not a neighborhood dog. The fox proceeded to sniff the garden and my iPod lying on the ground, showing no fear at all, after finishing its explorations it trotted off without a care in the world. Neat but a little unnerving. This is the fourth fox I have seen in the Hillside, usually taking their time moving along. They must have a large extended family here, or one very active fox.

Camila Ramos

about 10 years ago

Amy, you should share one of those photographs. I'll wait right here.

Amy Louhela

about 10 years ago

Here is the little fox

Jan Olson

about 10 years ago

Unfortunately, on Park Point many people choose to feed the foxes.  Some of these well meaning folks seem to think they're helping the foxes by leaving  eggs, hot dogs, chicken, dog food and more for them to eat.  This process has actually included hand feeding them!  Others feed them for their own viewing pleasure with little thought about how this affects the foxes.  The result as noted in a post above is habituation.  These lovely animals become dependent on handouts and  less fearful of humans.  This becomes very problematic for the foxes.  Instead of leaving the area and finding places to live where they can pursue their natural diet, they stay on the Point and their numbers increase.  Results?  More deaths by vehicles, less natural food available for them (remember the rabbits of Park Point?  There are no rabbits anywhere),  more dependence on humans and increase in diseases like mange.   Are foxes able to move from the Point?  Absolutely.  Bay ice has always been a route for all kind of animals to come and go from here.  I'm hopeful my neighbors will begin weaning the foxes off handouts and allow them to live naturally in environments that can support them.


about 10 years ago

It should be noted that it's 99% likely that the foxes are just getting too used to humans, but also consider that odd behavior like this could also be caused by a Rabies infection.

Habituation or Rabies - both bad news for wild animals.

[email protected]

about 10 years ago

Rabies is a serious concern, and we should never downplay the risks of rabies.

That said: there were only 72 cases of rabies in Minnesota in 2012, and none within 100 miles of Duluth.

There were 55 in 2011, and only one, just barely within 100 miles of Duluth.

Learn more about rabies here.

The likelihood, as BadCat suggests, is very very low. 

Nonetheless, BadCat raises a good point. There are a hundred reasons why staying far away from foxes is a good idea.  The very small chance of rabies is one, and an important one. If you are bit by a rabies vector species in Minnesota, the animal will be caught and killed to examine to make sure that it has not passed rabies on to you. That fox bites you, it will be killed. That sucks for you and it.

And additionally, increasing human contact makes the animal more comfortable around people.  Wildlife that is comfortable around people eventually becomes a nuisance to someone. That someone calls a trapper or an exterminator and that animal is toast.

The best way to live with wildlife is to respect it. Treat it like you would treat me (a 250-pound man) on the street. Nod your head, smile at me, take my picture if you think I am cute, but don't treat me like a pet. (Don't leave me scraps on your porch, don't try to pet me, even if my hair is gorgeous). Treat me this way, and we can live happily together in the city.  

And we can live happily with the fox, too.


about 10 years ago

Rabies at it's late stages affects the animal's brain and behavior, meaning that a normally timid animal might actually walk toward you. Rabies is super rare, but scary as hell, and almost always fatal.


about 10 years ago

I know that there is a tame fox down by the Sky Harbor Airport.  Some of the people who work down there feed it milk bones by hand.  I wonder if that is the fox you seen.

[email protected]

about 10 years ago

Are these issues important to you?  Join UMD student interns and community volunteers at Wildwoods.  Orientation will happen outside Bagley Nature Area on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 10am.

JP Rennquist

about 10 years ago

I think Amy's photo is great and I nominate it for a wallpaper (full disclosure I think Amy is great in real life, too).  

I know that people feed foxes. I'm ambivalent about it. I'm glad that they appreciate the wildlife, but habituating wildlife to humans is dangerous in principle and also a little disrespectful to the "wildness" in the wild things. 

Finally, Park Point is an island.  For the last 100 years anyway.  People need to be even more careful with natural balance on islands.  Am I right?

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