Thief of the night to feed the family by day, a Robin Hood ess like stealing from the rich to give to the hungry.. Fantastic Mr Fox, story how the fox’s seem to be always one step ahead and are able to constantly outwit their human counterpart..
Fiction it may be but the cunning capabilities of Mr. Fox are very real.. The ability to adapt to their environment and at the same time be lurking in the shadows while most of us go about our day unaware of the prying eyes that watch us.
They have a very high understanding of us (humans) to such a degree that might fascinate many. One example of this would be when Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology were using GPS tracking devices on a pair of Foxes which happened to be living in the outer east suburbs of Melbourne, right near Lloyd Park. The researches were amazed to find that the foxes had been within 50 metres of hundreds of people during a grand final that was being played at the time. But what came as more of a surprise was that they moved away a week after the grand final due to the fact that there was no left over food from spectators in which they where able to scavenge after the game had finished. This shows the elusiveness of the fox even in highly populated areas.
Of recent times I have noticed the number of foxes I would continually see while driving late at night was becoming far more regular, not only that but the fact that I began to notice them in areas which had no immediate bushland anywhere around. It made me very curious, so I decided to do some research and found that there are as many as 20 foxes living in a square kilometre territory in some parts of Melbourne compared to that observed in farmland which is around 4 per square kilometre. Foxes seem to be migrating to Suburban Areas due to a couple of main factors one being that there is plenty of food available in suburban areas compared to the country counterpart and two is the lack or predators.
With the perceived threat of predators in suburban the fox is close to the top of the food chain and a very opportunist hunter which maximizes its food resources ranging from scavenging leftovers from bins, sporting events, roadkill to being considered a threat to around 76 types of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and native birds. Foxes may be of benefit to control wild cat numbers from growing but are they having a far more negative effect on many of our native species population numbers even bringing some to the verge of extinction such examples beingorange-bellied parrot, spotted quail-thrush and western swamp tortoise. Do the pro’s outweigh the con’s or is it a subject that needs to be brought into the conversation for the future mitigation of the fox population?
Are foxes in Australia heading towards the likening of coyote’s in America?
The coyote has been a prolific species with its presence in America over the millennia even despite it being in the past one of the most highly targeted species for eradication. There was a lab that was created named Eradication Methods Laboratory which was responsible for working on a range of poisons such as strychnine, to wipe coyotes from the face of the continent. 1931 was the year that congress passed a bill which granted the lavatory $10 million to achieve just that. The results from a 9 year period between 1947-1956 they were responsable for killing approximately 6.5 million in the west of America, using blanket poising method which they would use up to 4 million poison baits at any one giving time.
The adaptability of coyotes to its surrounding environment is equal to if not surpasses that of the fox. This is evident for over the recent years they have resided residents in Americas major cities such as Chicago and New York City! Just as the fox the coyote has come to realise that there are fewer predators in the city coupled with the mass quantity of the available food source. San Francisco have started a new project called ‘Project Coyote’ which aims to help people understand how to coexist with the coyotes instead of reacting from fear + stereotypes surrounding them.
Only time will tell what approach we decide to take and if any, it may be already to late for some of our native fauna which is on the cusp of extinction from the predation of the fox. That leaves us with the question of is the fox a….
Friend or foe…?