Mahomet's 'foxy' residents

By ISAAC TROTTER

Groups of foxes have decided to take up residence in Mahomet. While doing so, they have created excitement around the community.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact number of foxes because reports from Mahomet residents vary.

“We’ve counted two moms and anywhere between five and 10 kits,” Joan Stipp said. “We’ve never seen all 10 out at a time, but we’ve seen quite a few.”

It’s a sight Stipp has witnessed in her backyard on Turner Drive in previous years.

“This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen them. They’ve been around for two or three years, but this is the first time we’re actually looking for them,” Stipp said. “We never know what month, but we’ll start seeing some little heads pop up underneath our shed or playing out in the fields in the acreage behind us.”

Ainsley Boyle is a manager at the University of Illinois Wildlife Clinic and she said that this year has seen an increase in the number of foxes.

“We’ve been getting a ton of calls at the clinic,” Boyle said. “It seems like they are out in all the cities around Urbana. The thing we have to remember is that it’s late spring, early summer and these foxes are having babies.”

Judy McDowell also resides on Turner Drive and she first noticed the foxes in her yard two months ago.

“I’m very happy to have them here,” McDowell said. “They are very entertaining and I really enjoy it. They decided to play in the middle of my garden and I thought my tomatoes were going to be decimated, but they weren’t. They just played in the dirt.”

When the kits were quite young, they were much more stationary, but now they’ve ventured out of their various nests.

“The mom would leave them here and she’d go hunt and bring rabbits and ground squirrels to them,” McDowell said. “I was amazed how they would stay put. Until they got older, then they’d start following her along. She’s teaching them to hunt.”

Although the foxes are wary of humans, they appear to have no qualms about exploring Mahomet. One was even seen crossing 13 Acres Park during a game.

“A lady was walking her golden retriever and a baby fox was following the dog down the sidewalk,” Mahomet resident Debbie Helton Combes said.

They also aren’t afraid to get close to houses.

“They’re getting braver,” Stipp said. “The mom came up over the back porch with her kit. My daughter and I were watching as they came up. Our cat came, and they were like nose to nose looking at each other.”

The behavior of the foxes doesn’t seem to be dangerous, but experts are having a difficult time explaining their actions.

“It’s kind of hard to say, but maybe the owners of the yards aren’t bothering the foxes and just giving them space so they’d feel more comfortable,” Boyle said. “Maybe there seems to be more food and resources for them. It’s really hard to say why they’d be so comfortable in those environments.”

The foxes are the most active in the early mornings and late evenings and no one should feel too alarmed by their presence.

“They’re adorable and so fun to watch,” Stipp said. “I don’t see them as a danger. If we don’t bother them, they won’t bother us.”

If there’s a problem with foxes, then there are some safe steps for people to take.

“Usually two to three months after the kits are born they’ll start to go on their way,” said Boyle, who added that residents who find the foxes bothersome can “call the Department of Natural Resources or the Wildlife Clinic if they want advice on how to remove them.”

 

Categories (2):News, Environment

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