Meet Your Neighbors! “21st Century Fox”

This is the first article in a new regular “Meet Your Neighbors” column of our newsletter. Each

issue will bring you a short story about one of the other species with whom we share our ecosystem. And of course, how could we not start with the Fox!

This piece is by Jack MacRae, retired DuPage County Forest Preserve Naturalist and master storyteller.

21st Century Foxes

photo of fox
photo by Jonn Leffmann

Today’s fox are not your grandparent’s fox. They’re not sneaking into the hen house or leaping over idyllic pasture fences. They’re no longer chased by baying beagles…thank God!

Contemporary fox are living the entire length of the Fox River; finding fine fox habitat in the matrix of forest preserves, parklands, light industrial areas, golf courses, cemeteries, wetlands, creeks, and rivers.  Of course, they live in your backyard, or your neighborhood.

Today’s fox find plenty of food in this new landscape and they exhibit excellent predatory skills.  They survive by hunting rodents and rabbits all year round. Their highly varied diet also includes fallen fruit, waterfowl eggs, and big bugs in summer.

Foxy Females

The females start house hunting in spring and will ultimately choose and use several den sites once the kits are born. Fox build their homes under sheds, in dry culverts, and within cavities of mature, split trees.  The entrance is surprisingly small, , and secretive.  Fox moms must be nervous.  Every few days, she will carry her babies – one at a time – to a new nursery.

From Enemy to Symbol

The attitudes about fox are different in today’s urban and suburban world. Not so long ago, when the land was filled with family farms that stood like man-made islands surrounded by natural communities, foxes were looked at as an enemy. Fox were shot on sight!

Today suburbanites don’t have anything the fox wants and most fox – human conflicts have disappeared.

The result: While the only fox you might see regularly are those small bronze sculptures that are the symbol of the Fox Valley, real Fox are living in our backyards and in close proximity to you!

It’s a good time to be a fox in the Fox Valley.

Written for Friends of the Fox River by Jack MacRae