Foxes in Inuvik 'losing their fear of people,' warns environment department
Gov't spokesperson warns residents not to feed foxes, be alert for signs of rabies
Although there might not be more foxes in the Northwest Territories' Beaufort Delta region than normal, there appears to be an increase in the number of foxes that are coming into the main areas of Inuvik.
"We're noticing a lot more foxes are sort of, I guess, habituated to humans. So it seems like they're losing their fear of people," said Lila Voudrach, the Inuvik manager of wildlife and environment for the territorial Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
"Some of them have been reported to even approach people or getting too close to people and following people. So that is kind of leading us to believe that there may be somebody feeding them."
Voudrach said not only is feeding wildlife illegal, but "once a fox is fed, they will always look to humans for food."
She said if a fox gets too close, people should try to chase them away, or scare them off with a stick or snowball.
'Take a Kid Trapping' program
Another concern that the department has is that foxes can be carriers of rabies.
While there have not been any reported cases of foxes with rabies in the region for years, and there's no suspicion that the foxes in town are carriers, Voudrach said it's best to be careful, especially if you are a dog owner.
"Foxes that have rabies tend to attack dogs," she said. "So it's also very important that dog owners keep their dogs on a leash or keep them indoors, and to avoid them getting in contact with the foxes."
Voudrach said the department recently approved funding to East Three School for the "Take a Kid Trapping" program.
The program is designed to introduce school age children to traditional harvesting practices. Details of the East Three program are still being figured out, but Voudrach said students would learn how to trap, skin and dry foxes.
"We are really hoping this program will help eliminate some of the foxes around the community," she said.
"We are going to be able to address the issue of the high numbers of foxes in the community and the youth would be able to learn their traditional ways."
Voudrach said if anyone sees foxes approaching or following them, they should report it to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.