Middletown Township residents, you have been warned. There is a predator in your midst.
The red fox.
The charming yet pesky creatures, with beautiful red fur and long, bushy, white-tipped tails, are out in force in the Bucks County township. Police say they're chasing old dogs, terrifying cats, feasting on rodents, and prompting residents to call the animal control officer to complain.
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"Two weeks ago my neighbor texted me that she observed our indoor/outdoor cat running with a fox on her tail. We got her inside just in time," Kate Elizabeth commented on the police post. In February, a fox went after her 16-year-old dog until their much-younger basset hound came to the rescue, she added.
The fox, which is mainly nocturnal, poses no serious problem to humans. But if approached near their den, foxes will become defensive. Kits are becoming active, will get more vocal, and soon will be out hunting with their mothers, according to police.
"Not sure what visits my pond for a drink, sure isn't as pretty as this picture," June Bostwick commented on the police Facebook post. "Got to go look up coyote."
She might want to Google gray fox. The animals are native to Pennsylvania, with a gray coat, buff-colored underfur, and a bushy tail marked by a long black streak and black tip. And they climb trees.
Not all residents are concerned about the opportunistic feeders – or sympathetic.
"Haha, just like the newer residents to the area to call police to complain about wildlife. Go back to NYC," a Facebook user named Marylynn Mc wrote on the department's page.
She has a point. Foxes were here first.
"If you have a fox population in the area, your best bet is to keep your cat indoors, and to stay outside with your small dog versus leaving them in your yard unsupervised," Animal Control Officer Katie Brennan stated in the post. "Smaller animals kept outside such as pet rabbits, guinea pigs, and any poultry are at risk and should be kept in the appropriate enclosure to maximize their safety."
Brennan suggested contacting a licensed wildlife removal company to trap any problematic foxes. But if dealing with a mom with kits, just wait until they leave the den, then block the area.
"If there seems to be a problem with a potentially sick fox or group of sick foxes, you should call the Pa. Game Commission at 610-926-1966 so that they can dispatch out an officer if needed," police posted.
A red fox in Langhorne on Sweetwater Drive. Courtesy of Al Pearlman.