Keeping up with the foxes.

Every now and then, if you spend a lot of time exploring off-trail, you will have a close encounter with a fox. On the first encounter, it will run away quickly to a safe distance, perhaps taking a second look at you from under some vegetative cover. Surely just as you are thinking to yourself, “Cool! A fox!”, something akin to “Crap! A human!” is going through its brain.

While working in northern DE, I have interacted many times with a fox in the north end of White Clay Creek over a two year period. It seemed to me that the encounters were all with the same individual; it had a recognizable dark spot in the fur on its right side. After approximately a month of encountering the fox in this location, once every 3-4 days, between 0600 and 0800, the fox habituated to my presence and no longer ran at my approach. Rather, it kept a calm, inconspicuous profile as it slowly moved past within 10 meters of me.

On two occasions, I sat motionless for an hour, leaning against a log; the fox came trotting down the trail, without detecting me in my secret upwind location. The fox was nearly in my lap by the time that it detected me, and it gave a hilarious jump of surprise!  It quickly scampered about ten meters away, and then as if realizing (remembering?) that I was not a threat, the fox regained its calm composure, lingered in the area a bit while sniffing at a log, then slowly walked away. I never moved an inch.


Categories: Exploration, Natural HistoryTags: , , , ,

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