02 February 2009

Body Language and the Red Fox

It's tough to be a red fox person (Vulpes vulpes) nowadays. You just want to eat a few mice and baby birds, but most of the human people are out to shoot you or smash you flat with a speeding machine. I like red foxes, and still feel bad about the ones we trapped for the $5 bounty when I was a kid. I apologize each time I meet one.

With the environmental recovery around Butte, Montana, fox people have become fairly common in the Big Butte/Walkerville/Moulton area. I see fresh tracks most mornings around the house (they don't come TOO close unless it's a hard winter) and we see them in the headlights while driving home some nights:
On a summer morning, this one watched RTD (RolyTheDog) and I walk by, seemingly secure that an old dog person and its clumsy human companion were no threat:

RTD and I hiked out back in the Ryan Road area early Sunday morning instead of skiing. I was exchanging a few quorks with one of the local raven people when an exceptionally large red fox (I thought it was a coyote for an instant) looked over at us from perhaps a hundred yards away. Neither RTD or I showed an agressive posture, which I think counts for a lot in terms of how animal people perceive human people. We walked along and it paralleled us, watchful but curious, for several hundred yards.

In her younger days, RTD was hell on wheels when she came across fox scent (she liked to chase cats too, though if they stopped running so did she). There are some virtues in having a calm, old dog.


troutbirder said...

Now that quite a picture of Reynard. They are quite rare around here and extremely wary. I've only seen a couple in my life. Too bad.

Deedee said...

Eco - You and I have more than one thing in common- we both refer to animals as people or persons! That, and Dylan and Lucinda. I have a copy of Flogging Molly's Swagger next to me on the desk as I write this...what a riot! That fox in the photo looks somewhat gray as well as red - hybrid?

EcoRover said...

troutbirder, I believe that you can walk the seams of the world in a way that makes you invisible or at least acceptable to wild things.

As anglers, we do this all the time--moving slowly so as not to spook the trout people, taking care not to line them with our casting, keeping our silhouette low, etc.

EcoRover said...

Deedee, I think she might have been an old girl. I know she had a den nearby and had at least one previous year's litter in that area.

But our western "red" foxes do tend to be much lighter than the eastern Reynards (I like tb's formal name!) I grew up with. Maybe it's because of the abundant sunshine and lack of cover? Also, as Darwin noticed of Reynards (lovely, much nicer than "Vulpes") he saw in South America, they have "rather longer legs."