Photo gallery: San Juan Island springtime for momma foxes and their baby kits

Photo gallery: San Juan Island springtime for momma foxes and their baby kits

There is a population of foxes on San Juan Island in northwestern Washington state, where I live. They are non-natives who were brought here in the 1930s by island dwellers who were trying to come up with a solution for dealing with the island’s other main invasive species, rabbits (who seem to have arrived sometime in the 1850s with early British settlers). It didn’t really work—the foxes mostly just spread out across the whole island, while the rabbits remain centered at its southern end. But since foxes are not good swimmers, the species did not spread. They have remained here and have become accepted members of the island ecosystem, having survived some tough years in the 1990s.

These are red foxes, but there is a black/silver (technically, “melanistic”) variant among them. So some are red and some are black, sometimes in the same family. And every spring, fox mommas bear litters of their kits, and the island’s residents get to enjoy watching them grow up, while trying to keep them safe from passing cars. (It’s also taboo to feed them—naturalists dealing with the starving populations we saw in the ‘90s realized the problem was dependency on humans. They thrive when they’re on their own, because there’s plenty of prey for them here.) In any event, I was able to enjoy a couple of late afternoons this past month observing them from an appropriate distance with my telephoto lens in hand. Hope you enjoy the results.

These two siblings played together for a long time, and I thought I might keel over from a cuteness overdose.

The black one thinks he’s being sneaky.

First, a greeting.

Then they just played and played.

This kit was staying close to its momma up the hill a bit.

Two more siblings hanging out atop the rock overlook.

The kits generally were quite wary of the nearby traffic, which was light and sporadic, and thanks to local signage, mostly cautious.

Two tough guys playing outside the den.

While one kit nurses, the momma and another kit watch their neighboring fox family intently.

The other momma was a black/silver female. Both had mixed litters.

Some of the kits, like this one, weren’t the bright red we saw on many of them, but kind of a mixed auburn color.

The mother was clearly teaching them how to eat solid food, bringing them prey that they all devoured. I wasn’t able to tell what it was.

Still playing with their food.

One or two of the kits would wander into the road while momma went to hunt, but eventually would make their way back to the safety of the hillside where their den was.

I happened to catch the black/silver female out hunting for the kits a little further down the road later.

Powered by WPeMatico

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: