Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Fox and DEC

Joey and I were just leaving the cemetery after our morning walk when a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation truck turned off Columbia Turnpike onto Ten Broeck Lane. Realizing this was the DEC police officer dispatched to investigate the report of a rabid fox, I turned the car around and followed the truck into the cemetery. I caught up with it on the cemetery road just beyond the GAR plot and, after telling the officer that I and a few others had been monitoring the movements of foxes in the cemetery for more than a month, offered to share what we'd concluded. He took me up on the offer, and we first visited the hollow tree in Section D, where foxes have been seen more than once--a tree Joey continues to be obsessively curious about.

The officer inspected the tree, peering inside with a flashlight, and confirmed that this was a likely fox hangout although probably not the den.

Next we went to the northeast corner of Cedar Park, where a fox was most recently seen coming across the road from the transfer station. It was this general area where the mangy fox was photographed on September 23 and where it was found dead the next day.

Along the way, we met up with another fox watcher and several members of the DPW cemetery crew. The officer was interested not only in fox sightings but the observed behavior of the foxes. None of us had witnessed anything that we interpreted as aggression, but we did attest that the fox (or foxes) we'd observed didn't seem very fearful of humans. This behavior could be attributed simply to the fact that the foxes live in an urban area and have grown accustomed to seeing humans. In my experience last Saturday, when I was trying to get close enough to the fox to get a good picture, the fox only darted away when it caught sight of Joey. As the DEC officer pointed out, the only natural enemies of foxes in an urban setting are domestic dogs.

I learned this morning what DEC would do if it were established that the fox was suffering from sarcoptic mange. They would attempt to trap it and then transport it to a wildlife rehabilitation center. Meanwhile, the fox watch--for a rabid fox or a mangy fox--continues.

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