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Fox in Johnson County, Kansas

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I’ve had several conversations recently about foxes and whether or not people should be concerned about them in their backyards. In my opinion, having a family of foxes take residence is actually a good thing.

There are a number of species, but in Johnson County, we typically only see the red fox. They are usually solitary creatures, but will create a family unit from the winter breeding season through midsummer. Mating occurs mid-January followed by birth at the end of March or early April. Litters will generally consist of four to nine kits, and both parents will stay with the young till they are ready to go off on their own in the fall. At that point, they will all disperse to find new vacant breeding territories for the next round.

There are several reasons that I consider them to be a good addition to your backyard. The first is that they prey upon rabbits, mice, bird eggs, and other small rodents — free natural pest control! Another reason is that they don’t usually prey on anything larger than a rabbit, meaning that household pets are usually safe (but I’d keep an eye on any kittens or toy-sized dogs if you turn them loose in your backyard). And out of all of the potential wildlife that we can find in our space in Johnson County, foxes can be some of the most friendly and entertaining to have.

My advice to folks who have asked me about their neighborhood family of foxes is to let them be. They are agile hunters and can provide well for themselves without needing human assistance and can provide fantastic pest control in return for being left alone. And since they will move on in the fall, enjoy watching the kits grow and play!

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Amy Keigher

Natural Resources Agent