|This is the excellent work of nature photographer Gary A. Haines who can be reached at the Grizzly Creek Gallery or at grizzlycreekgallery.com|
About a week ago, one afternoon, James and I were coming home from a dentist's appointment in the city. It's a long trip and we were about three miles from the farm, when a black fox jumped across the road. It was very clearly a completely black fox, and I had never seen one before. I imagined it to be a spontaneous mutation of some kind. In this area we have numerous gray foxes and numerous red ones also. The local populations were boosted some years ago when someone in the next county bred both varieties for fox hunting which used to be quite fashionable locally. The foxes here are never killed, and do seem to enjoy the hunt until the little hounds corner them, and then they are caged to go home for the next time. Twelve or thirteen years ago, there was a flood in the next county which liberated the entire groups of the gray and silver foxes which were being bred for hunting. For the longest time, foxes were everywhere. They were a rather nervy bunch and very tame, in part because they were raised by human beings, and because their numbers were so large, they felt pretty comfortable. This is however, the first time I have ever seen a black one. This is a beautiful animal and moved in a stealthy sleek fashion. He is a young adult and strong and healthy looking. I was glad to see him three miles from the farm, so that he stays away from the chickens and ducks.
This afternoon, our son Adam came in armed. He had just noticed a large healthy looking entirely black fox here in the late afternoon. I should have known that he would decide to come here. Sometimes I think we have a sign out......."Lost animals in need of a meal come here". Over the years mountain lions,a mule, numerous hunting dogs, a bevy of bobcats, numerous hummingbirds, egrets, varietal foxes, numerous deer, including a snow white one, and now a rare black fox have come here. No wonder the dogs have been noisy, and the cat is jumpy. We do have to be very watchful here. Rabies is very common among wild animals here, and can often afflict foxes. We are sure to keep all of our mammals immunized against tabies, and to be alert to wild animals which are behaving atypically.
UPDATE: In the six weeks since we saw the black fox here at the farm, none of our chickens or ducks have been disturbed. If he is here then there must be sufficient small game for him to hunt in the forested areas here so that trying to obtain the domestically housed animals has been unnecessary for him. Either that, or he has simply moved on.