Red Fox at PI

Presque Isle State Park has been home to the beautiful red fox (vulpes vulpes) off and on for years. The red fox is the largest of the fox species of which there are approximately 25.   Since I’ve been frequenting the park for 5-6 years now I’ve had several people tell me they’ve seen a fox on the park,  usually crossing the street or quickly scurrying down  a path.  According to some, the once resident foxes were either run off the park or killed by the resident coyotes. 

Red Fox (Vulpes Vulpes)

This year the fox are back in residence!  A pair of red fox had a litter of kits.   Per DCNR Park Ambassador, Brian Berchtold, the fox litter started out with four kits.  One of those kits was hit by a car and killed.  What I thought were two of the young, continue to be seen consistently not far from the now abandoned den.  

Red fox pair

Carrie Duafala, who you may know as the researcher whe tagged and studied the coyotes on Presque Isle (Pacoyotes.com)  was kind enough to provide me with some interesting information about the red fox species, including the fact that the foxes that I have photographed are likely the adult pair.  This has been supported by the fact that two larger fox, like the ones I’ve photographed and present here, have been seen recently with a smaller fox, likely one of the kits.  Carrie also explained that  like feline family units (rather than canid family to which the fox belongs), fox young disperse fairly early,  possibly staying on the parent’s territory until spring.  Despite the solitary nature of the fox, the female young may stay on in the territory and be a subservient member of the loose group and help her mother raise the next litter of kits.   I hope they do stick around until spring because I’d love to be able to take some photos of them in the winter snow. 

Even adult fox sometimes act like youngsters. This one was seen playing with a styrofoam bobber.

Like other beasties I’ve written about in this blog, the fox have become unusually tolerant of people due to the constant presence of humans on their territory, not only on Presque Isle but around the globe.  the red fox has become extraordinarily resourceful and adaptable which is part of the reason it is known as being cunning…”sly as a fox”. 

I believe this is the female fox, or Vixen. The male is known as a Reynard.

  If you should happen to come across a fox or other wild animal on PI or anywhere else, respectfully watch from a distance. Do not approach the animal and just as importantly, do not let the animal approach you.   There are ignorant people out there who feed these animals and the animals may approach in hopes of getting a free meal or they may just approach out of curiosity.  Either way, yell and shoo them away!  It’s safer for both of you.

The vixen enjoys a drink.

The regal fox, perched on a log, unperturbed by the several photographers snapping away.

To see a short video clip of this fox doing some log rolling as she hunts for a possible reptilian snack click here. Notice that the title says “fox kit”.  This was before I was made aware that this is an adult fox.

6 Comments

  1. Brian Berchtold

    Great job. Going to be hard to get someone to replace you on the Education role.

  2. Michele Franz

    Thanks, Brian. I think you would be perfect for the job!

  3. Bill Simbeck

    Michele, Another great write up and photoghaphy….

    From Brain’s comments, are leaving the site … ?????

  4. Michele Franz

    No, I’m not leaving the site. I am new the president of the PI AUDUBON Society and it’s quite time consuming wearing both hats and working full time.

  5. Bill Simbeck

    Congradulation on your new position ….

    I’m from Sheffield Pa. and try to visit once a month …

  6. Michele Franz

    Thanks, Bill. Glad you’re able to get to the park on occasion. I should clarify my last comment. I am the President of PIAS now and also continue to serve as the Education Chair which is what Brian was referring to in his comments.

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