A Yellowknife man is urging fellow residents to stop feeding the city’s wild foxes after discovering dog food apparently left out for the animals.
In a post to Facebook on Sunday, Marcus Jackson said he discovered a bucket of dog food left near what he termed a “well-known den site.”
He said whoever left the food for the foxes “might as well shoot them yourself for all the good you think you’re doing.”
In his post, Jackson wrote: “I was so angry I could spit. Someone thought slipping a bucket of dog food under the fence was a good idea. I managed to reach in and remove it.
“Although these are urban foxes they are still fantastic hunters and scavengers. Feeding any wild animal puts them at risk.
“A fox that thinks dog food is food will be lured by the scent of it left out in yards for pets which can potentially create a fatal conflict where the dog kills the fox, chases the fox into traffic, or is labelled a nuisance by the city and ‘euthanised’.
“Feeding them also makes them then think they can approach humans for food and can lead to them being more easily hunted or approaching children which just gets everyone’s knickers in a knot. DON’T FEED THE WILD ANIMALS!”
The post, which contained a photo of a fox approaching the dog food in question, was shared more than a dozen times within an hour of being made public.
It is not possible to independently verify that the food had been left for the specific purpose of feeding local foxes.
‘A danger to itself’
Feeding wildlife is illegal under the Northwest Territories’ Wildlife Act in all but a very limited set of circumstances, such as wild animals lawfully kept in captivity – itself only legal under specific conditions.
In Yukon, where the law is similar, the territory’s government says on its website: “Feeding wildlife is illegal and usually ends in a death sentence for the animal.
“When foxes, coyotes and wolves become habituated to unnatural food sources they can lose their fear of humans.
“A wild animal that has become conditioned this way can be a danger to itself and to the general public.”
In 2015, a Northwest Territories wildlife biologist warned dog food left out for wild animals could also be attracting bears to popular trails near the city.
“It sounds like they’ve been feeding on dog food so someone has been providing food for them perhaps out of sympathy because they look skinny,” Dean Cluff told Moose FM at the time, as the Cameron Falls Trail was temporarily closed owing to bear sightings.
“Bears like dog food so we often recommend that if you have pets at a campground, we suggest that they get fed indoors and food isn’t left out because that could be an attractant.”
Red foxes thrive in the Northwest Territories, where they are listed as ‘abundant’ in all but a handful of areas. Arctic foxes, though lesser seen, are considered an occasional visitor to the Yellowknife area and common above the treeline.