A fox kit investigates the Mount Vernon Gazette.
Photo by Glenda Booth
The May 10 Mount Vernon Gazette was very popular on my street. I found six Gazettes in my side yard on May 12 scattered all around. And on May 13, I was mesmerized by a home delivery, when one arrived “en mouth.” The culprit? Vulpes vulpes, the red fox. The Gazettes in my yard were in their plastic bags, but all had telltale toothmarks.
No, these enterprising “news hounds” are not tidying up driveways nor probing local politics. These are dedicated parents taking chew toys to their kits in the den, I learned in 2016, during a similar spring surge of disappearing newspapers. A neighbor found a stash, all in plastic bags, near a fox family’s den. At the time, Alonso Abugattas, natural resources manager for Arlington County Parks, explained, “Foxes usually stick with bones, roadkill and scraps, but they will bring back other things.” When the young leave the dens around six months after their birth, it will likely end, he said.
“Foxes are primarily nocturnal,” says Fairfax County’s website, adding, “Foxes are highly adaptive and can become increasingly active during the day in urban areas …. Foxes generally pose little threat to humans, their property or pets,” the website also advises, but cautions that they can pose some risk to small pets, especially if people feed pets outdoors.
So hats off to our devoted, parenting fox friends out there chewing on the local news. In the interest of a healthy local fox population and for other good reasons, editors, keep the news coming.
Glenda C. Booth