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Please don’t feed the Cape Ray foxes

Feeding foxes at the Cape Ray lighthouse could harm their chances at survival.

CAPE RAY – Staff at the Cape Ray Lighthouse Museum and Crafts say a family of about nine foxes are living nearby and attracting attention. Residents from around the region are captivated by the furry family, and some have been visiting the area almost daily hoping to catch a glimpse and perhaps snap a candid photo or two.

The foxes don’t seem to mind, even having been captured on video and in photographs doing some people watching of their own.

But the foxes may be getting too close for everyone’s comfort or safety – especially their own.

“I’ll tell you how close he was. Cathy (Musseau) was sitting there painting and he got his nose full of paint,” offers Renee Ford, who is currently working at the museum.

This is the first summer the large fox family has been in such close proximity, although a pair was first spotted wandering the area in Feburary or March after a successful hunt.

“He came back with a seagull in his mouth or a fish,” notes Yvonne MacDougall.

As they become more accustomed to humans it can prove problematic for both species. Those problems become exacerbated rather quickly if people feed the foxes.

Craig Renouf, Media Relations Manager for Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture says that people shouldn’t get too close to the foxes or their den, and above all, they should resist the temptation to feed them.

“While there are no specific Provincial Government regulations that prohibit people from feeding wildlife, the practice is strongly discouraged as predatory species such as fox, lynx, coyotes, wolves or black bears can be very dangerous to humans or pets or transmit diseases if a bite occurs,” wrote Renouf via e-mail. “Animals such as these can become habituated or accustomed to humans if a source of food or garbage is readily available. When wild animals become habituated, their natural fear of humans decreases and they take more chances to access food. Habituated animals are unpredictable and may become aggressive.”

When that happens, the consequences for the foxes may eventually prove deadly.

“While conservation officers endeavor to relocate wild animals when possible by trapping and relocating, habituated animals that pose a threat to human safety may have to be euthanized through no fault of their own,” said Renouf.

Tips for dealing with wildlife

The Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture recommends that if wild animals are near your home, cabin or campsite, that you:

• Do not approach wild animals to touch, feed or photograph them.

• Do not feed wild animals, even if you think an animal looks hungry.

• Do not leave food, pet food, bottles, pop cans or food containers outdoors.

• Store food, garbage, coolers, camp stoves, pots and pans in your shed, cabin or vehicle.

• Harvest fruit from fruit trees when ripe.

• Keep dairy products and meat out of compost piles.

• Clean barbecue grills after use to minimize odour.

• Remove bird feeders from your yard in April and replace them in November.

• Store garbage inside a shed or garage until just before pick-up.

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