Found a fox? Run into a raccoon? How to handle close encounters of the wild kind

Wildlife officers say Islanders can expect some close encounters with raccoons, foxes and even beavers as the weather warms up, but some should be treated as "nuisance animals" and removed immediately, while others merit a more hands-off approach.

Wildlife officers say some 'nuisance' animals should be removed immediately, but others can be left alone

Fox kits usually emerge from their dens at about six to eight weeks old, says Chuck Gallison. (Submitted by Brittany Crossman)

Kathleen Brennan got quite a surprise this week when she stepped out on the third floor balcony of her apartment in Stratford, P.E.I., and saw a raccoon curled up in her tomato planter.

It had made itself comfortable and wasn't in any hurry to move.

"It had made a little bed in there," she said.

It may be unusual to see a raccoon on a third-floor balcony, but it's certainly not uncommon to see raccoons, skunks, foxes and other wild animals in the city this time of year, says provincial wildlife officer Chuck Gallison.

"Spring is the hot season," he said. "They're all out and about. No different than anybody else — shirts are off and they're going outside."

This raccoon made a bed in a tomato planter on a third-floor balcony in Stratford. (Submitted by Kathleen Brennan)

Gallison doesn't just get calls from Islanders who open their cottages and sheds for the season and find uninvited guests. A couple of weeks ago he got a call about a beaver trying to cross Riverside Drive in Charlottetown.

Brennan called a wildlife removal company to remove the raccoon from her deck. That's what people should do in that circumstance, said Gallison, because raccoons, as well as skunks, are considered nuisance animals.

Not so for foxes. Wildlife removal companies are not supposed to deal with foxes, Gallison said, because they are considered fur-bearing animals. Besides, he said, live traps used to capture raccoons don't generally work on foxes.

Lynn Reket came across these young foxes on P.E.I.'s Confederation Trail. (Submitted by Lynn Reket)

Gallison said if you find a family of foxes on your property, it's best to let nature take its course because they will move on eventually.

"If possible, let them raise their young a little, until they're a little bit older and if there's noise around she will usually move them," he said. "But certainly our city foxes, noises don't bother them too much."

Unlike raccoons and skunks, foxes are not considered nuisance animals by P.E.I.'s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. These foxes were seen near Grafton Street in Georgetown. (Submitted by Boyd Rilley )

He said fox kits generally come out of their dens at about six to eight weeks. And by this time, the mother could likely use a break.

"The mother will take them out of the den in the nice bright sunshine and kind of show them the outdoors and may bring them back a mouse to pick a or whatever," Gallison said.

"She's quite wore out by this time, because they're using her milk and stuff like that so she's pretty scraggily looking."

OK, so you might not see a buffalo and its baby in the city, but you will if you visit Buffalo land park in Milltown Cross. (Submitted by Dale Linthorne)

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Shane Ross


Shane Ross is a journalist with CBC News on Prince Edward Island. Previously, he worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in Halifax, Ottawa and Charlottetown. You can reach him at