Where foxes trot — in search of handouts

13Apr11

Wary fox & 'do not feed the foxes' flier, Island Beach State Park, NJ

the first fox, not far from the gate at Island Beach State Park, NJ. fox mimicking Cujo at Island Beach State Park, NJOn paying the entry fee at Island Beach State Park, on a barrier island along the New Jersey shore, the ranger gives you a receipt, a map brochure — and a flier that says “Do Not Feed Foxes.” That seemed curious, till we drove a few hundred yards into the park, passed a fox sitting on the shoulder, and found that when we slowed down the fox trotted after the car. We stopped and it circled. When we pulled into a nearby parking lot, the fox continued to skulk around us, then a fisherman who was at his car came over and offered us a handful of dog biscuits. fox appearing to be stealthy, but hoping for handout.fox trotting across a lot, Island Beach State Park, NJ We declined, so he tossed the biscuits onto the pavement and the fox snarfed them up. So it went the rest of the day. We saw five foxes and they all were unafraid yet skittish at the same time, coming very close, boldly, then flinching at every little noise or fast movement. Despite the appeal of the unexpected close contact with nature, you couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed for the foxes.  It just wasn’t natural behavior. Maybe it was the off-season that made them come out, but you’ve got to wonder about the park’s website that says “seeing them is purely a matter of luck.”

Fox awaiting handout, despite its regal appearance.

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