Don’t feed, or touch, the foxes in Eagle | VailDaily.com

Don’t feed, or touch, the foxes in Eagle

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyFoxes, like this one spotted in Edwards, are relatively common in the Vail Valley, but it's unusual for a family of seven foxes to settle in downtown Eagle
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EAGLE, Colorado ” A few days ago, Scott Schlosser was headed home when he spotted some little critters romping in the road in Eagle, Colorado

As he slowed down to avoid hitting the animals, he realized they were a family of foxes. Schlosser pulled over and directed traffic around the five kits. He also called the town and the Colorado Division of Wildlife to see if anything could be done to protect the animals.

Eagle’s newest residents ” a family of seven foxes, two adults and five kits ” has definitely chosen an unfortunate place to build their den.

The family is living along Capitol Street in Eagle and lots of locals have already spotted their den. While they don’t want to pinpoint the den location ” because of its high visibility ” the town is asking humans to drive carefully and avoid contact with the wild animals.

“Everyone is worried that they are going to get hit by a car or someone is going to pick up one of the babies,” says Bill Heicher, open space coordinator for the town of Eagle and a retired Colorado Division of Wildlife game warden.

He says the foxes’ best chance at survival depends on people leaving them alone.

“If you see the young, or the adults, please do not stop or interact with them in any way,” said Heicher. “Please drive slowly throughout this area and be especially vigilant early morning and night.”

Heicher said the foxes will likely remain in the area for the next few weeks before the kits are weaned and ready to move on. He said a full-grown male fox only weighs around 10 pounds so the animals do not pose a threat to humans.

Foxes also eat the numerous ground squirrels in the area.

As soon as the young are big enough the foxes will move off and any human interference will more than likely result in serious complications for the animals, Heicher added.

“If you see them please do not approach closer than 100 yards,” he says. “Foxes can put up with a lot of stuff. They are beneficial and they are great fun to watch, from a distance.”

This isn’t the first time that wildlife have chosen to build homes in highly visible Eagle neighborhoods. A few years ago, a pair of great horned owls built a nest in a tree alongside the bike path next to the cemetery. Locals enjoyed watching the owl chicks in the nest, but eventually the birds disappeared.

“The owls didn’t come back. That’s usually their pattern, to re-nest in the same spot year after year,” says Heicher.

Heicher said humans who interfere with wildlife are often well-meaning but ignorant. He explains that people who come across infant wildlife often mistakenly believe the babies have been abandoned by their mothers. But picking up a baby animal has terrible consequences.

“That is signing a death warrant for the animal they just picked up,” Heicher said. “Every time people mess with wildlife, it doesn’t turn out well for the animal.”