Fox on the run

By on June 5, 2019

A furry creature has been spotted in Lititz.

No, it’s not the elusive Bigfoot or even Gritty, the mascot from the Philadelphia Flyers.

It’s a red fox, and for the past few weeks, Lititz residents have caught a glimpse of it on more than one occasion.

On Tuesday, we put a call out on our Facebook page, asking locals to let us know if they’ve seen the animal roaming around their neighborhoods.

At press time, the post has attracted over 60 comments.

“She quietly walked from the back of our yard to the front early Sunday morning,” said Peggy Smith.

“It was on Fourth Avenue again yesterday,” exclaimed Rachel Millard Horst.

“My husband and I were sitting on our porch drinking coffee Saturday morning on Memorial Day weekend,” said Cindy Stauffer. “As we were sipping, a good-sized fox with a big fluffy tail trotted casually through our front yard. We were both so surprised that we jumped up — in our PJs — and followed the fox as he took a right and went into the backyards of our neighborhood.”

The fox was also spotted two weeks ago along Sue Drive according to Jeanine Sailer, who lives in that neighborhood.

“I looked out the front door..it gingerly walked across the front yard then took off,” she said. “Beautiful!”

Residents spotted this fox on May 30 on Laurel Avenue. Photo by Cindy Cislo.

“I live on Fourth Avenue,” said Kelly Bomberger. “I followed it down Fourth, and two days later, my son’s mother-in-law had it in her front yard on Laurel Avenue.”

A resident who also lives in that neighborhood said, “She was about three feet away from me before I realized she was staring at me.”

Other sightings around town include along South Broad Street, Red Oak Drive, South Cedar Street, and 4th Avenue.

“It is not at all uncommon for foxes to be in towns like Lititz,” said Sarah Dawson, a wildlife biology professor and the director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Sustainable Environment. “I live in Lancaster Township, and I’d estimate we have at least half a dozen — possibly many more.”

“Foxes are naturally nocturnal, but it’s neither unusual or worrisome to also see them during the day,” she added. “If you are commonly seeing a fox in the middle of the day, it is quite possible that its den site has been disturbed and it is searching for a new safe place to call home. They are generally very timid, and they likely won’t be around for long. Foxes are great neighbors even when they aren’t seen — they keep down the number of rodents that cause disease,” she said.

Photo by Kelly Bomberger.

Dawson noted that the public should absolutely not feed the animal, and should also bring in tempting snacks like cat food which might draw the fox closer to a residence.

“Fed animals may become dependent on human food sources and occasionally lose their fear of people,” she said. “If a fox approaches you directly, make loud noises to scare it away.”

Greg Graham of the Pennsylvania Game Commission has also fielded a few recent calls on the matter.

“They all can find their needs of food, water, shelter, and space met within borough limits,” he said. “There are many species of wildlife that thrive in residential communities and residents should not be alarmed,” he added.

Is it the construction around town that’s bringing these beautiful creatures out of the woodwork?

Perhaps, says at least one expert.

“Red fox are often found in farmland habitats so as we lose this type of habitat to development, fox are forced to relocate and find new places to live,” said Dan Mummert, Wildlife Diversity Biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Southeast Region.

Mummert added that “Just as with any wild animal, you shouldn’t approach a fox, but instead give them space and appreciate the fact that they’re a part of our local diversity of wildlife. Foxes aren’t a threat to people but small pets such as house cats should be kept indoors.”

“Fox primarily eat mice, voles, rabbits, large insects, and plant material such as berries,” Mummert added. “They are a valuable asset in our natural ecosystem.”

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

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