The province says there are an increasing number of red foxes making their way into suburban P.E.I. neighbourhoods and Islanders need to make sure the critters don’t become too comfortable.
The province put a notice in a local newspaper reminding people that red foxes are wild animals, even if they seem friendly.
"Foxes are a capable predator, certainly scratches and bites are always a possibility. Transfer of diseases is another one," said provincial wildlife biologist Brad Potter.
Potter said the province isn’t certain that the fox population on P.E.I. is growing but Marina Silva-Opps, a UPEI researcher, said the number of sightings is on the rise.
Silva-Opps has been tracking the animals online since the fall, using tips from the public.
There have been more than 1,000 sightings so far, with lots of hot spots in Charlottetown.
Potter said the problem is that many people are feeding the foxes, which keeps them coming back.
"Once a fox is fed and becomes habituated to being around people, it eventually becomes a nuisance and a serious problem for some," he said.
There's no provincial regulation against trapping foxes. There's also no fine given to people who feed foxes outside of provinical and national parks.
Instead of feeding foxes, Potter suggests homeowners make loud noises to scare the foxes away, or leave deterrents around the yard.
Fox deterrents can be made using homemade recipes that include things that foxes don't like such as hot peppers and onions, dish soap and castor oil.
A simple homemade deterrent can be made by mixing Tabasco sauce with vinegar, sprayed around a property.
"They might look cute and cuddly, people might think that they're pets. We want to make sure people know that foxes and other wildlife are better left observed from a distance," said Potter.