A white morph red fox is being spotted in people’s yards in my area of New York state. It is reported as being “very friendly.” My question is, should I call the Department of Environmental Conservation to report a possible escaped (or released) exotic pet? Or contact a local wildlife rehabilitator?
for what it’s worth young foxes are often very ‘friendly’. We had one in our field and called the game warden and he told us just to haze it by yelling at it and throwing things in its general direction. Felt bad doing so to the super cute little fox but it was what we had to do for its sake. It learned fast and we didn’t see it much any more.
I have no idea how likely a white morph fox is to be native rather than escaped, but it’s a possibility. SO you could try the game warden? If it’s truly a pet you’d probably have to capture it to get someone to take it I’d think.
Thanks for your reply, Charlie. I see red foxes (the common color, not silver/white) fairly often on our own property and have seen kits in the springtime that were quite unconcerned with my presence, even lay down in the grass and loll about, groom themselves, or tumble and play as I sat in a chair nearby (until the mother trotted by and the young ones would follow her). Only Fennec Foxes are legal as pets in New York.
Wildlife rehabilitators can’t accept animals simply because they are “friendly” or a nuisance, so a wildlife rehabilitator unfortunately isn’t an option here. Most animal controls and pet rescues also can’t assist in rehoming the animal as a pet without strict proof that the animal was captive-born.
However, friendliness can sometimes be a sign of prodromal canine distemper, prodromal rabies, or starvation, so I would call a rehabber if the animal shows other symptoms of some kind.
This is likely a natural color phase in this case, or if it is an escaped or released pet, it’s native to the environment, so leaving it alone is fine. Please make sure that everyone in the area knows not to feed it. If people start feeding it, there is no hope for its survival and they would be doing far more harm than good.
Thank you for your help and advice.
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