Are more foxes being seen in residential areas in Fresno?

In recent years, Marcel Nunes has noticed some new visitors in his backyard and along the route of his morning walks on Wilson Avenue in Fresno’s Tower District.

He’s seen a few now: foxes, both local grays and invasive red ones. They’re mostly just chilling and “exploring the neighborhood,” he says, “although the fact that the cat food is outside is undoubtedly part of the appeal.”

“And they help themselves.”

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Nunes isn’t the only one seeing foxes moving through Fresno’s residential neighborhoods. According to Executive Director Linda Van Kirk, the Central Valley SPCA and the Fresno Humane Society have had an increase in sightings in recent years.

“We average about one call a week about foxes in Fresno residents’ yards,” she said.

Because the SPCA deals with pets (cats, dogs and the like), it refers people to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, although it does accept sick, injured or diseased animals at the animal center under an agreement with the Fresno Wildlife Rescue. and Rehabilitation.

Seeing a small amount of foxes in the city is normal, especially now. It’s spring and the animals are sheltering in place, said Dan Fidler, a Fish and Wildlife biologist who has worked in the Fresno area for 15 years.

Where are they seen?

“There are foxes everywhere,” says Fidler.

“They are all over the city.”

In recent years, foxes have been spotted downtown, in downtown Fresno (at Ashlan Avenue and First Street), and even chilling by the pool of a home on the north side of the city.

They really like the San Joaquin River Corridor, which provides shelter, water and good food sources (that’s fruits and vegetables and maybe some rodents) and have historically been spotted in the Old Fig Garden neighborhood, which dead-ends in the Tower District.

“It makes sense that they would expand into that area,” Filder said, although he’s not sure if what residents are seeing is a change in distribution.

“It’s hard to say how human interaction between predator and prey works,” he says.

“As with anything related to wildlife, there is a cocktail of causes.”

As wildlife goes, foxes don’t cause much trouble. They are the most common urban wildlife in Fresno and adept at living among humans.

Distemper can be a problem if they get around pets, Fidler says. There are also mites, fleas and sarcoptic mange (which makes animals resemble the chupacabra). But they have a low incidence of rabies (compared to bats and skunks).

And a resident who sees a fox doesn’t necessarily need to contact Fish and Wildlife, Fidler says, although the Wildlife Management Program does have a number and they are happy to call. It’s never a bad thing to have information, he says.

They should examine their home for things that could attract the animals, such as trash, fallen fruit from trees, or cat food. Apart from that: “let those animals remain as wild as possible.”

Fidler tries not to get preachy when it comes to wildlife’s interactions with people in urban areas, but says there is something heritable in the human genome that makes us want to feed things. “Feeding is a nightmare,” he says.

Several years ago, dozens of foxes took over an empty lot in north Fresno because someone left bins of food for them. Fish and Wildlife was able to stop the feeding. The lot eventually became a shopping center and the foxes spread to other parts of the city, he says.

So Fidler doesn’t think the fox population in the area has necessarily changed.

If anything, it’s just noticed more.

“We live in strange times with technology,” says Fidler.

“We have wildlife coming in and out of our gardens all the time.” With the proliferation of cameras (in phones, doors and cars), “we are catching glimpses of the world that is out there when they are not paying attention.”

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Joshua Tehee covers breaking news for The Fresno Bee and writes about a wide range of topics from police, politics and weather to arts and entertainment in the Central Valley.

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