Yukon conservation officers warn against feeding foxes
'We really are trying to crack down on this,' says conservation officer
It happens every year, and Yukon conservation officers say they're getting serious about people in Whitehorse who illegally feed foxes.
"We really are trying to crack down on this because of the increasing numbers of foxes probably over the last oh, I would say probably over the last five or six years," said conservation officer Dave Bakica.
"If we catch people that are feeding them, and we have evidence that they've been feeding them, we will charge them outright ... no warnings for this sort of thing."
It's illegal to feed wildlife, including bears, foxes, coyotes, wolves, and cougars, even if it's unintentional (leaving food somewhere wildlife can find it), in Yukon.
Wildlife officials say feeding foxes — especially young kits — habituates them to unhealthy food and puts them at risk.
Bakica said officers are dealing with more reports of foxes than in the past, though he couldn't say for certain why. The animals can be a nuisance, denning on people's properties, digging in gardens, making off with pieces of clothing or footwear, and preying on pets.
Feeding the animals just causes more problems, Bakica said.
"It just becomes tempting for people to feed them and it's typically never the people that are feeding them that have the issues with the foxes — it's the immediate neighbours," he said.
"They make a heck of a mess if they decide to den in your yard ... they do really smell quite badly, with the carcasses, the feces, and even their urine smells like skunks."
Bakica said fox feces can also contain parasites that can be passed on to pets. Rabies is another concern, though he said it hasn't been observed before in red foxes around Yukon.
"However, red foxes elsewhere have. So it's a concern," he said.
Bakica said there are a number of ways to discourage foxes from denning on your property or force them to move along, such as using ammonia-soaked rags as a kind of repellant.
Citronella and mothballs can also work, he said, and some people use ultrasonic alarms to keep the animals away.
"And then if you've got the time — which many people may have — you can sit on your deck or in the yard with a Super Soaker water gun, and whenever the fox shows up you can squirt him. And they get the picture pretty quickly that way, as well."
With files from Leonard Linklater