INNISFAIL – They are cute and adorable, but citizens are urged to stay away because they just might be setting the stage for their early death.
That’s the message Carol Kelly, executive director of the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, is sending to Innisfailians who have fallen head over heels over a “whole new batch” of baby red foxes, known as kits.
Kelly said an Innisfailian called the wildlife centre on May 6 concerned that citizens were trying to be kind to the young foxes who were starting to show themselves near the Innisfail and District Historical Village.
“He had seen people get too close. He was concerned for the safety of the fox because he’d seen people already giving them food, thinking they are cute and getting them used to people,” said Kelly. “What they (Innisfailians) are doing is actually signing that cute little fox’s death warrant,” she said. “If it becomes too friendly, then people become afraid and they will kill it.”
This is the time of year when red foxes have new kits. The red fox is a small dog-like carnivore that can grow to be about five kilograms in weight with a 58-cm long body and a 38-cm long bushy tail. They inhabit Alberta’s mixed prairie and parkland, as well as woodlands, rural and suburban neighbourhoods. They are generally reddish in colour with their legs and small pointed ears being usually black.
“There have been foxes in Innisfail forever. They are there all the time. They’re beneficial,” said Kelly. “They are not a problem with people’s cats or children,” said Kelly.
“But the only problem is actually the people, and the people who think they are cute think they can go over and leave food for them, or hand food to them and they begin to get the fox friendly.”
She said in 2020 the centre was called to Innisfail by the RCMP that a fox was coming up to children in the school ground.
“It wasn’t because the fox was aggressive it was because he was looking for a hand-out,” said Kelly.
She said the best action people can do is vigorously clap their hands, make some noise and scare them away.
“Make them realize that people are not something they should be coming to,” said Kelly. “Stop being nice. Basically, these are wild animals still and yes, they are cute, so take your picture and go away. Do not feed them because you’re going to make them too friendly.”
Kelly said there are no plans at this time to come into Innisfail and deal with the baby fox issue but her office will keep an eye on it from the wildlife centre.
The Medicine River Wildlife Centre, which takes in more than 2,000 injured and orphaned animals every year, is located near Raven in Central Alberta, about 41 km west of Innisfail on Highway 54.