Sep 07 2008

The Chicken Fox

Published by at 7:03 am under Mammals

Acadia National Park is always a good place to see wildlife.  The one species we’re sure to see is the red fox. 

Introduced to the United States by British settlers who enjoyed fox hunting, the red fox quickly established itself in the niche of medium-sized mammalian predators.  In Maine as everywhere they’re generalists, hunting for prey the way cats do by stealth and pounce but willing to eat roadkill if the opportunity arises.

That’s how we saw a vixen and kits one evening, eating a dead fawn by the side of the road.  Because of the position of the fawn, the kits were in danger of being hit by a car so I stopped and used my hiking stick to push the roadkill into the ditch.  This must have worked as there was no hint the next day that any kits had been hurt.

One night at the inn we were awakened by eerie barking – a cross between a cat’s yowl, a dog’s bark and a cry of pain.  It was a fox claiming his territory but it gave us the creeps.  We were very glad when he shut up.

Our best encounter was with The Chicken Fox.  No, he didn’t kill domestic chickens.  Someone in the neighborhood felt sorry for him and provided supermarket meat.  The Chicken Fox became single-minded and fearless about retrieving his handout and would trot across the backyard every afternoon on his way to the stash.  We knew what he ate because he would carry the boneless, skinless chicken breast back to the woods.

I think the chicken handouts prolonged his life.  He looked worn out and mangey in his final year but still showed up for his daily meal.  The Chicken Fox is gone now, but his descendants live on.

(photo by Chuck Tague)

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “The Chicken Fox”

  1. Amy Fon 08 Sep 2008 at 11:20 am

    Boneless and skinless? That was one spoiled old fox. :)

  2. Anthony H. Bledsoeon 08 Sep 2008 at 11:22 am

    Just for clarification, Red Fox is native to boreal parts of North America. Most, and possibly all, United States populations south of Canada were introduced from European populations. There may have been (and may continue to be) hybridization between the native and introduced populations in North America.

  3. Coryon 09 Sep 2008 at 8:10 pm

    The fox is by far my favorite animal. There have been times where I will take a night time drive just with hopes of seeing one! I wish I could find a good place in the Pittsburgh area where you are sure to see one.
    Over the years I have seen
    7 in West Mifflin
    2 in South Park
    1 in Bethel Park
    1 in Elizabeth

    Anyone else see em often in the Pittsburgh region? My numbers span over 15 years but I have seen 3 this past year. They are on the rise!

  4. Lauren Conkleon 12 Sep 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I’ve had 3 fox sightings in my neighborhood in Washington, PA during the past 11 months. Maybe they are on the rise because I’ve been living here for almost 16 years and I only started seeing them about 2 years ago. I always see them in the morning when I’m out birding, but my neighbors have had sightings in the evening.

    I also had a fairly recent sighting while I was out driving around the Taylorstown area, which is close to Washington. I was driving down a hill and noticed a fox on the side of the road. As I approached, it was desperately trying to climb the slope at the side of the road to get away, but the slope was too steep and it slid back down. It was comical. As I drove up to it I began to realize it was a young fox, not quite an adult, which I guess would account for its clumsiness. I stopped right next to it and we stared at each other for a few seconds and then it realized it could escape into a tunnel under the road. I was out looking for birds, but I was just as happy to see the fox, which was very cute.

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