By: Leigh Edwards
Date: February 25, 2000
Dogs aren’t uncommon in Whistler, at least the type that have collars and (usually) come when called. But Whistler is also home to two other canines: Coyotes and the subject of this week’s column, Red Foxes.
Fox sightings are rare because they are primarily nocturnal, shy, and somewhat nervous. In winter, they make their presence known through tracks in the snow under chairlifts. In summer, you may see well-worn, narrow paths in the high alpine that have fox scat on them. A good place to find such signs is the alpine area of Singing Pass in Garibaldi Park.
The ability of a Red Fox to hear low frequency sounds allows it to listen for small animals such as mice and voles under the snow. After hearing its prey, the fox begins to pounce on the snow. The vibrations cause the prey to panic and scurry and helps the fox to locate it. Once the fox thinks it has zeroed in on the movements, it will dig frantically to capture its intended victim.
In the spring and summer Red Foxes feed heavily on vegetation including grasses, fruit, and berries. Foxes also eat invertebrates such as beetles and grasshoppers.
The adult Red Fox rarely uses a den in the winter. The fox simply curls up in a ball and uses its bushy tail as protection from the falling snow and cold. In the summer a maternity den is found or made. The family will use the same den for several years if undisturbed.