The Fox and the Sarah

If you were a fox wouldn’t you want to be as far away from an elementary school bus stop as possible?

Please understand that I am talking about the actual animal, not an attractive person from the ’80s, although in either case the sentence still works.

I ask because we have this neighborhood fox that gets keeps getting braver. He was no more than sixty feet away from the bus stop this morning. It seemed like an odd choice for a feral animal. He isn’t afraid of people and that makes me nervous. I don’t think he is rabid. I don’t think he is stealing chickens (mostly because I don’t think there is any livestock in my neighborhood) and I don’t think he has attacked any people yet. As far as I can tell he just roams around eating dog food, but still I don’t want him around my kids.

He is a wild animal. People should frighten him. I don’t know why they don’t.

One time I was outside talking to my neighbor and he started walking right between our houses. I yelled at him “Go away, fox!” because I am a writer and I know a lot of words. I yelled at him and he looked me dead in the eye and squatted down like he was going to poop in my side yard.

I was all “Oh no you don’t!” and I started walking toward him.

The mystery here is what I would have actually done if he kept pooping. I don’t know how to fight foxes. I’m scrappy, but not that scrappy. Plus, I would feel like a real jerk for punching an animal. He is way smaller than I am. Looking back, I wonder if my neighbor would have jumped in. I bet she would have. I mean, if she is willing to let me borrow a white dress for Mom 2.0 knowing that I spill everything she must have my back.

Luckily, he ran away and I didn’t have to prove anything.

He looks kind of like this guy, if this guy ate Science Diet and was more of a dick.

Aside: Remember when I said we didn’t have any livestock in my neighborhood? One time these kids from around the corner told my kids that they got a bunch of chicks for Easter and that they accidentally all got loose in the neighbor’s yard. There were seven children and two adults out looking for these chicks for 45 minutes. I felt sick. I knew that the fox or an owl or some other predator was going to eat those poor baby chicks. I worried about them for about a week before I decided to block that memory until Tuesday when my children told me that those same two children got a horse and were keeping it in their back yard. “That is impossible.” I said “They live on a quarter of an acre and I am pretty sure it is against our homeowners policy to have a horse in this neighborhood.” “But Sophia said that she had a horse at her dad’s house!” “Are you sure she is telling the truth?” I asked suddenly remember in the chicks I asked the kids “Do you think they really even had those chicks?” and Claudia said “No, they saw it on an episode of  iCarly. I think the incubator was just a lunchables box.” Then I felt really stupid for worrying about the imaginary chickens.

What would you do? I have already talked to my kids about staying away from the fox, they know that if he comes around they are just supposed to walk away. If I see him eating my neighbor dog’s food I open my window and yell at him (It might be on to me now and know I won’t fight it).  Do I call animal control? I don’t want him to die, I just want him to go live somewhere else. I have seen him four times in the last three days. That is too much. He is far to comfortable with people for a undomesticated animal. What should I do?


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  1. We have a lot of wildlife that roams through our neighborhood, probably nothing to panic about too much but I can understand your concern. We have a company around here called Critter Control, don’t know if they’re just local though. They live-trap animals and relocate them at least two counties away. Might be worth looking into something like that in your area. Don’t know if they deal with foxes though, we’ve only called them for beavers, groundhogs and skunks.

  2. I would definitely call animal control. I don’t know if they’ll necessarily kill it. They might just trap it & move it to a more rural/forest-y area. Even if you’re not worried about your kids, I would be thinking about things like small dogs or cats that the fox might go after.

    When I lived in the sticks, we had a problem with coyotes, and there was nothing we could do about them because we were so far out in the country. But it meant that I never let my then-toddler daughter be more than a half-second sprint away from me, because those bastards were BOLD. They killed several of our neighbors’ cats and dogs. I don’t know how similar foxes are to coyotes (I’m guessing the fact that you only have one fox instead of a pack of coyotes is a major difference), but still, it would make me way too nervous to just ignore it.

  3. smart aleck says:

    Okay, so wikipedia is not the most academic of sites, but this posting seems legit:

    If I’m reading correctly, he wasn’t trying to poop, he was letting you know that he considers you to be dominant. And why not? You have opposable thumbs and can drive to the grocery store for your food, where he has to hunt and use his teeth and stuff.

    Nocturnal animals roaming during the day scare me–unless he’s a teenager then his weird hours make perfect sense.

  4. I wish there was an 80s foxy man hanging around your bus stop but seeing as how there isn’t, first I’d like to state that much of the time, nature is over rated. And I, too, fear foxes. Have you considered asking your neighbor to put her damn dog food inside? We like to complain about our oppressors but we don’t want them attacked by a fox.

  5. “I yelled at him “Go away, fox!” because I am a writer and I know a lot of words” might be one of my favorite things ever.

  6. Be glad it’s not a skunk living under your house and spraying randomly. “Oh, did you forget about me? Here is a friendly reminder. I see you put some metal cages out that I will not walk into. How lovely. I like your design choice. They really make the grass POP.” I used to not hate animals, then I moved into my house which is apparently a Noah’s Ark proxy of some kind. Now I hate animals and want them all to die.

    I caddied at a country club that had a fox. He’d strut around in the morning like king sh#t, but I never heard of him stealing golf balls or tearing out Carl Spackler’s throat or anything. And he seemed pretty chill like Billy Dee Williams. This is pretty much scientific proof that you have nothing to worry about.

  7. Submissive peeing. The fox (are we sure it’s a he and not a she?) was acknowledging your dominance.

    This is going to sound weird. (but I had a squirrel that met me on meadowbrook -where was no meadow nor brook – and walked me home from school every day of my senior year in High School.) I believe this fox sees the neighbor as it’s home. And the other residents as almost part of it’s pack. I mean, he’s been fed and “watched out for” by you humans.

    It’s noticed that the human pups gather at the same time most days, and the fox is there to watch over them. To count their number and make sure it’s right… To see that they get into that smelly yellow box and disappear. It might be it’s final task before curling up for a rest during the day.

    I’d keep an eye on it, but it’s not going to attack a human unless it’s rabid.

  8. Call your state wildlife dept. They may be able to relocate the animal. Animal control will likely euthanize it.

  9. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to say something about socks now.

  10. We have a ton over here. They regularly walk right through my carport–while I’m sitting there. What are their natural predators? Do we need to start keeping bison or some such as pets?

  11. Oh no. You want the fox. The fox is fantastic. It’s the skunk you want to go away. Do what you can to make the fox feel welcome, and you will suffer less from skunks and raccoons and squirrels and other vermin because they, unlike humans, have boundaries. Unfortunately (for you) the fox is unlikely to stick around in a generally unwelcoming neighborhood. Which is kind of a bummer, because foxes are great. Of course you don’t want any kind of rabid animal around, but there’s not much to be done about that except make sure the kids don’t approach any wildlife. However. The kids are much more threatened by people who keep powerful pet dogs they don’t train and can’t control – those folks ought to be tranquilizer darted and hauled out to the wilderness to fend for themselves. Not the fox.

  12. I would call animal control. Foxes are nocturnal, its not a good sign for them to be out during the day.

  13. We had a very similar situation at our elementary school last year (in the suburbs of DC as well). A fox was roaming around our grounds and in our parking lot regularly. We called the county animal control and they came out but didn’t do anything. One morning about 4 of us (folks who could be out of the classroom for a while for various reasons) followed the fox around for an hour or so trying to get animal control to do something. We didn’t see it after that. I think it realized we were a bit obsessive and it needed more space.

    Probably not helpful at all. So, good luck!

  14. You say that the fox looks skinnier than the one pictured. Does it seem to have all its hair? We’ve got a lot of foxes in the woods behind our house, and the only time we’ve ever encountered them a) In the daytime and b) Seemingly unafraid of humans is when they had sarcoptic mange. Then they’re so uncomfortable and hungry that they lose their fear.

    The mange is treatable; you can contact your local animal shelter and they can give you the medication. (You boil chicken legs, inject the medicine into ’em, and leave them for the fox.)

  15. Lori Landeen says:

    I saw him a bunch too when I lived with you for those few months. I wouldn’t risk it. If I couldn’t find a wildlife rescue group to relocate him, I’d call animal control.

  16. If you do fight the fox, will you promise to post photos/video? And, as an aside, I don’t think that would make you a jerk – anybody who poops in your yard has it coming.

  17. LMAO just found your blog, HI-larious post!! Adding you to my favorites. :)

  18. Okay I am going to solve this problem right now.

    Stop everything you are doing. Go download the This American Life app to your phone. I will send you the $2.99 if you don’t already own the app. Go listen to story #319: And the Call Was Coming From the Basement.

    Listen to the first story, about a woman attacked by a rabid raccoon. You will never ever EVER in your entire lifetime want to be near a rabid animal again ever. EVER. Fox is not rabid now but could be domesticated and rabid.

    Seriously, I have listened to every episode of TAL and this one kills me. I made my husband listen to it. It is HAUNTING.

  19. denise says:

    In Loudoun Co, VA Animal Control will NOT respond to complaints about wildlife being a nuisance or frequently appearing in populated areas. Evidently they have to show signs of being infected with rabies or make a threat, like eating children at bus stops, before they come out. So for now, enjoy the wildlife, take some pictures but don’t touch them b/c…
    “Rabies vector species such as foxes, skunks, raccoons should never be touched by persons who have not been trained in their care and who are not protected by rabies pre-exposure vaccines. If an unprotected person handles these animals, the animals would probably have to be euthanized and tested for rabies.” source

  20. I love foxes, they are my favourite K-9. Providing that you aren’t a rodent or a chicken, I really don’t think you have too much to fear. Your little fox buddy will be scared of you unless you start habituating him by feeding him.

    One of the reasons foxes tend to den near people is first for the food source. People can be messy and wasteful and to a fox that is a free lunch. And second because coyotes are scared of people and coyotes kill foxes, so the fox would rather take his chances with you, than with the coyotes which would certainly eat him.

    Anyway, not to worry, you are safe, your kids are safe and if anyone is encroaching on anyone’s territory, it is us on them. Thanks for the story. I enjoyed it.


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