By JACK SHAUM
The Star Democrat of Easton
QUEENSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Town officials in Queenstown are looking into ways of dealing with the recent presence of red foxes inside town limits during the daylight hours.
It’s known that foxes have dens near Queenstown “but we’re seeing them where we’ve never seen them before,” said Town Commissioner Mike Bowell at the commissioners’ Nov. 27 meeting.
Commissioner Perry Stutman said the town board has heard from a number of residents “that there have been a number of foxes gallivanting around town during the daytime and to dusk.”
“Usually you do not see them in the middle of the daytime walking by in town with cars going all over the place,” Commissioner Tom Willis told his colleagues.
Pete Jayne, game program leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said it’s true that foxes tend to be wary of people but “in a community like that, they learn that they’re safe during the daytime.”
“They may also be adapting to conditions there,” because Queenstown is a small town without the hustle and bustle of larger urban areas, he said.
Jayne said another reason foxes are turning up in town is that people may be unintentionally providing them with food.
“There could be pet food left outside or unsecured trash, or perhaps a bird feeder or a suet feeder,” he said.
According to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s web site red foxes mostly hunt at night but are “not strictly nocturnal.”
The Chesapeake Bay Program Field Guide refers to them as “mostly nocturnal but also active during dusk and dawn.”
The reason that animals like foxes do most of their hunting at night is because they know they’re difficult to spot in the dark, Jayne said.
It’s the fact that they’re being seen in populated areas of the town during the day that has officials concerned.
“There are those of us who feel this has potentially a health and safety problem for many of the small animals and children in town, and we are attempting to come up with a plan that will remove the foxes from the area without, shall we say, having them euthanized,” Stutman said.
“I wonder what the liability would be if we did not do anything and someone’s animal got attacked, or some child got bitten, and we had not at least tried to get rid of them,” Willis said.
“The biggest concern I have is a diseased animal,” Bowell said.
Jayne said he is not aware of any cases where a fox has attacked a child but said they may occasionally go after cats or small dogs.
There have been no reported incidents involving any of the foxes and officials at the town hall are not aware of any photographs taken of them.
At Bowell’s suggestion, Public Works Director Lane Cole spoke with Adcock’s Trapping Service, which has over 50 years of experience in dealing with wildlife control. Bowell said he has dealt with Adcock’s in the past and was impressed with its work.
“His biggest point was education letting people know more about foxes,” Cole told the commissioners about his discussion with an Adcock official. It was explained to him that one reason foxes are showing up in town is that they’re getting more used to being around people.
Cole said representatives from Adcock’s will visit Queenstown to look the situation over and meet with town officials to determine a course of action for removing the foxes in a humane way.
Information from: The Star Democrat of Easton, Md., http://www.stardem.com
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)