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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

So even with Wolves, Coyotes and Black Bears all roaming Minnesota's woodlands and fields, it turns out that the Foxes, both Red and Gray are the "Land of a 1000 Lakes" state most common carnivore.........Minnesota historically was a region that was home to Gray and Eastern Wolves, Western Coyotes(easternmost extent of their range) and Red and Gray Foxes................ Truly a "bragging right" of Minnesota residents to be able to say that this still holds true today..............It is also insightful to know that while Gray Wolves will kill Coyotes and Coyotes will kill Foxes, all 4 species find a way to co-exist in rough equilibrium when us human animals provide quality habitat and modest hunting pressure..................

Red fox, gray fox
Red fox

Red Fox

Minnesota's most common predator is a cousin to dogs, wolves, coyotes

In the lakes area, there are two types of fox – red and gray.

Red fox are more common, found in open places such as fields, while the gray fox are forest-dwellers.
Red fox are found throughout the entire state. Gray fox are also found throughout the state, but are not common in the arrowhead's northeastern forests and southwestern Minnesota's farmlands.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that the gray fox is now being found more in this part of the state. They attribute the growth to a growing number of cottontail rabbits – a favorite meal of any fox.Heavy snow cover is also not easy for gray fox to plow through, as their legs are shorter, so the DNR believes more mild winters in recent years – not last winter – has helped attract gray fox here as well.
David Kanz, assistant area wildlife manager for the Aitkin DNR office, said, "Over the last 15 or so years, gray fox are more numerous. They have typically been associated with river bottom hardwoods, but are scattered all over area counties now."
Red fox are 3-feet long and weigh 8 to 15 pounds. They are 15 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder and have a 13-inch tail. They are rust-colored, with black legs and a white tip on their tail. Red fox can also appear solid black, silver-black and red with dark bands across the shoulders, which is known as a cross fox.
Gray fox are 35 to 40 inches long and weigh 8 to 14 pounds. Their legs are slightly shorter than the red fox and they also have a bushy tail 12 to 15 inches long. They are gray with a noticeable black stripe on the back and tail. Their undersides are yellowish.
Gray Fox are able to climb trees

Both red and gray fox are mostly solitary animals. They get together in February to mate.
The female, known as a vixen, gives birth to five to 10 pups or kits 52 days later. The DNR says the pups nurse for 10 weeks, learn to eat and hunt after that, and leave their mother during the fall season – at 7 months old.
Foxes don't mind sleeping in the open. But, they use dens as much as 40 feet deep during winter for a nursery when pups are born. These dens can be old burrows of badgers and woodchucks, and can be found in rock piles, river banks or hollow logs. They can return to the same den year after year.
Young fox begin breeding after one year. They can live eight years or more, but their average lifespan is likely two to three years.
Kanz said a gray fox had a den recently near the intersection of Hwy. 47 and Bunker Hill Drive in Aitkin. A couple of pups were reported run over by passing cars.
Kanz said his office will periodically get calls during the spring when homeowners will say they have a den near their home and ask what to do about it. Kanz said people can enjoy the experience and let them be because they eat mostly rodents and shouldn't be a problem.
If a homeowner really wants them out, he suggests disturbing them by playing a radio.
He said they are known to move their litters to a different area.
Foxes share great senses or hearing, smell and sight with their canine cousins. They have a range of two square miles, and are opportunistic omnivore hunters. They will eat many things including cottontail rabbits, mice, rats, ground squirrels, snakes, insects, berries, birds, fish, seeds, vegetables, worms and eggs.
Gray fox are able to climb trees, while red fox cannot. Gray fox can hunt in the trees. Foxes also will store food to eat later by burying it in a hole or under the cover of leaves for safekeeping.
Foxes will hear mice under the ground or snow and pounce on them. They like to hunt during dusk and dawn hours.
The red fox is considered the most common predator in the state and the DNR estimates hunters and trappers harvest as many as 100,000 each year.
Kanz said, "There is lots of interest in fox trapping." However, detailed information is collected by the DNR for only four fur bearers – fisher, marten, bobcat and river otter.
Prices for fox furs, along with other furs, have been increasing. At their peak, Kanz said there were fox farms raising the animals for their fur. He recalls such a farm south of Deerwood.
Current prices paid at a sale in May of North American Fur Auctions, or NAFA, brought an about $52 for a red fox pelt, $30 for a gray fox pelt and $54 for a cross fox pelt.
Some higher quality pelts bring more. NAFA of Toronto, Canada, says demand is the most since 1987. More than 700 buyers from Russia, Korea, Greece, China and Europe showed up for the recent sale.
Nice pet?
Some abandoned foxes have been taken in by people and raised as pets. Online video sites show plenty of evidence. However, it isn't a good idea, according to Kanz of the DNR. He said canines and other carnivores can carry diseases and pass them to dogs as a parasite. Foxes have been known to have a mange disease known as sarcoptic that can sometimes kill thousands of foxes.
People finding fox pups can call Wild and Free in Garrison at (320) 692-4180. The organization takes in wild animals with the goal to release them again to the wild.

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