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Food-conditioned fox killed

Grand Teton National Park rangers euthanized a red fox out of concern for human safety. It had become accustomed to food handouts from people.

The animal had begun to exhibit bold behavior by approaching people and vehicles in search of food.

“Destruction of a wild animal is one of the most difficult actions we have to take as park stewards,” said Superintendent David Vela. “Hopefully this can serve as a cautionary reminder. I encourage everyone to help protect wildlife by securing food sources, including dog food and fish scraps, and by using the ‘Scare, don’t stare’ tactic to discourage approaching foxes.”

Visitors are reminded that feeding park wildlife is illegal, and may ultimately lead to the death of an animal or injury to park visitors. Visitors should immediately report incidents of animals being fed to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307-739-3301.

Because of a marked increase in the population of red foxes in recent years has spurred biologists to begin a red fox research project in 2016-2017.

So far, 13 foxes have been captured and tested for disease, genetic lineage, and use of natural and human foods.

One of those foxes was found to have been lingering around ice fishermen and receiving fish scraps and unsecured dog food. On December 28, biologists watched as it approached vehicles. It was captured and transported away from visitors to be dispatched.

Relocation of the fox was ruled out because they typically continue to beg human food in a new area, return to their original territory or die in competition with other territorial foxes.

The “Scare, don’t stare” tactic includes yelling, clapping, stomping and avoiding eye contact in an effort to dissuade foxes from approaching humans.

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