Fox(es) on the Prowl!

gray fox

This ain’t over yet

Talk about a biological disruptor… Everything is different at our rented adobe on the hillside, and it’s all his (?) fault. Furthermore, we can’t agree on whether the critter’s “big” or “small,” and I suspect there’s more than one.

The first sighting was two weeks ago. There he was, plain as day, a fine gray fox, licking spilled sunflower seeds off the ground beneath a bird feeder. I’d never seen a gray fox before (plenty of red ones in my day) and thought this was cool as hell, until I realized foxes go for cats. Callie the Wonder Cat is pretty big herself—maybe ten and a half pounds—and might weigh more than this new guy. That’s good. Until I had a chance to see the intruder, I also thought she was the fastest animal I’d ever seen. Well, we can put that myth to rest: the gray fox moves like a flash of light, has bigger teeth, and supposedly climbs trees. After what I noticed day before yesterday, I think he may even fly.

Right away, the fox’s appearance made a mess of my bird-feeding routine. How could I continue putting out seeds if they attract foxes and we have a cat? I love seeing all the birds. The cat is not the indoor version. Something had to give. My first solution was to muddle everything: I put out fewer sunflower seeds, didn’t let the cat out as much, and worried all the time. After a few days, it seemed the fox had left. To make sure, I followed its tracks in the snow and blasted a freon air horn in the same general direction into the snowy sagebrush. Nothing tangles with my air horn, no one. Things were almost back to normal when two days ago, I looked up at the kitchen window and saw a big gray fox on top of a platform feeder almost six feet off the ground!

(In broad daylight. Close enough to bop it on the head with my walking stick if the window opened. Laughing at me while the birds looked on…)

I pointed out the fox and got my wife to look. He jumped down from the feeder and vanished like a puff of smoke. Fox alert! More confusion in the household, keep the kitty in. Yesterday evening I walked outside to bring in firewoood. The doves and chickadees saw me and followed me around the house making hopeful noises. How could I resist? I put out a handful of seeds, hardly any really. Ten minutes later, there was a fox in the back yard chowing down! I thought this one was smaller, like a mate. My wife thought it was huge. Either way, we have a “problem.”

The cat now hesitates at the threshhold when I hold the door wide open. She knows something’s up. I’ve stopped feeding the birds. The fox or foxes are of course completely natural. It’s a wonder they’ve reappeared here in the neighborhood after many years. I miss the birds and we still have a goddamn cat. Ace Hardware wonders where I am as sacks of feed pile up. The status quo is busted. Maybe this is good.

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  • Joe November 30, 2013, 10:16 AM

    Chupacabra will surely show up next…

    • JHF November 30, 2013, 10:18 AM

      Damn, I hope so.

  • Rita November 30, 2013, 11:25 AM

    Our last dog died two years ago and I swore to remain free of pets. But dang it all, if I live in the wilds again I will probably want dogs for this very reason.

    • JHF November 30, 2013, 12:01 PM

      Yes, a dog would do it, make the foxes keep their distance. Not a little yappy dog, but something with a deeper “woof!” Everything I’ve looked up tells me that. Unfortunately, that also means you don’t see deer or much of anything else. I had Lady the Wonder Dog (white German shepherd) with me when I lived in my Ozark shack not too far from your old stomping grounds, and I never saw a single wild animal. No deer, foxes, skunks, raccoons, no nothin’. Funny that never occurred to me until now.

  • Mary November 30, 2013, 8:54 PM

    I’ve heard our vet say that cats are like ice cream to a fox. Your cat is obviously smart to be worried!

    • JHF November 30, 2013, 10:36 PM

      Well, you’d certainly think so. Oddly or not, there are all kinds of cat vs. fox videos on YouTube. I just searched through the first 30 that came up, and none of them show the cat losing. I realize that doesn’t prove anything. Still, there’s a lot of this (reload the page if you don’t see the video):

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