INDIANAPOLIS — Less than 2,000 feet from I-465, an Indianapolis woman is enjoying her little patch of nature.
Cindy Kelly says she has seen animals ranging from squirrels to coyotes behind her Nora home. She has put up a Ring camera in the backyard to capture some of these going-ons.
“We both have Ring cameras, so we both share our ring doorbell stuff and whatever animals you see or whatever you come across,” said Alex Moss, Kelly’s niece.
Near the end of March, a leash of foxes took up residence in the back of Kelly’s yard. At first, Kelly wasn’t quite sure what to think about the foxes.
The foxes dug up underneath her shed and the kits teethed on a board, leaving a chunk missing. Still, Kelly and Moss enjoyed watching the little family.
“We’ve tracked other animals, but not this closely like we haven’t set up a trail camera like this before,” said Moss.
Kelly was left with some questions, however. So she took to Reddit to figure out if there was any harm of letting the family live in her backyard. We reached out to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to answer some of her questions.
Geriann Albers is a furbearer biologist for the DNR. She tracks 12 species in Indiana, including foxes. She says red foxes, like the ones in Kelly’s backyard, are actually quite common in urban areas.
“There’s a lot of food in urban areas for something like a red fox because they primarily eat things like mice and squirrels and rabbits,” said Albers. “They also eat things like fruits and nuts, so all of those things are things we have in abundance in urban areas, so they do quite well.”
Albers says the home range for red foxes cover usually one to two square miles in urban areas. While raising their kits, they will find a den in their home range to keep them safe.
In most cases, Albers says people shouldn’t experience any issues with a fox living in their area. Still, there are a few common-sense steps people can take to make sure their risk of a negative encounter is as low as possible.
“That’s a few things like making sure you’re not leaving food out unintentionally for foxes,” said Albers. “Don’t leave pet food out all night, so the foxes might be lured into your yard. Pick up any fruit from fruit trees. Make sure your garbage cans are lidded because they will raid garbage cans now and then.”
Albers also said people might want to check on their pets if they know a fox is in their area. While they tend to avoid areas where pets are outside regularly, there is always a risk of an encounter between animals.”
“Mother foxes will protect their young and may perceive cats and dogs as a threat even if they don’t intend to be, or even perceive some cats as food,” said Albers. “So keeping pets a safe distance away and giving them their space is a good practice.”
People should avoid putting out food or toys for the foxes, as that could lead to problems down the road, like foxes associating food and toys with people. Moss says they don’t plan on getting closer to the foxes than necessary.
“We don’t get close to him ’cause we don’t want to hurt them or scare them away,” said Moss. “They like this area, so that’s good and we’d love to see them stay.”
Albers says red foxes don’t tend to stay in one place for long. Albers says red foxes switch dens a couple of times during the rearing season, so they usually only spend anywhere from six to eight weeks at any one den before moving on.
Still, if someone wants to get rid of a fox that set up a den in their yard, Albers says there is some things they can try. This includes playing a radio station at night by the den to scare them off.
Once they are gone, Albers recommends blocking off the hole they were using and removing any food sources from the yard.
Moss says they don’t have any plans, for now, to scare off the foxes, but might put some protection up after they leave to protect Kelly’s shed. She says they have enjoyed watching this little piece of nature.
“It just kind of brings our attention to see like how much wildlife is around us,” said Moss.
If anyone wants to learn more about red foxes, they can do so on the Indiana DNR website.