Toronto Wildlife Centre says the internet-famous fox family has lost their natural fear of predators
The Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) is asking people to keep their distance from a family of foxes at Woodbine Beach a baby fox was found dead last weekend.
TWC said in social media posts that a volunteer found the carcass during a pre-dawn shift.
“The wounds suggested the poor kit was killed by a larger predator, and because the body was left there it’s likely an aggressive dog was responsible,” the organization said. “Many owners have been seen letting their dogs charge at the foxes, sniff them or the den they’re hiding in – and most often the dogs are off-leash.”
The foxes, which live under the boardwalk, have attracted international media attention and crowds of onlookers with cameras during the pandemic. The TWC is now asking people in the Beaches area to avoid the animals and keep their pet dogs on leashes.
TWC added that the baby foxes likely became accustomed to the presence and scent of dogs and lost their fear of their “major predator.” Volunteers are performing “averse conditioning” to re-train the foxes to fear and avoid people.
“Sadly, the innocent lives of the remaining babies may also be lost if dogs are not kept away,” TWC wrote. “Although it may look unpleasant, volunteers rushing at a fox kit, and clapping or stomping on the ground, is exactly what they should be doing to help save the foxes’ lives. We’re asking our animal-loving community to help support our volunteers who only have the foxes’ best interest in mind.”
People who want to take photos of the foxes are being asked to do so from afar and keep moving – or just stay away.
The New York Times recently published a feature about the foxes that noted people have reportedly been picking up the fox kits and hand-feeding them.