Operation safe fox
September 04, 2013
From songbirds to squirrels, wildlife is a common and welcome site at UW-Whitewater.
But one wild visitor is causing concern after making campus its home.
Over the last six months, people have spotted a fox roaming around the university. It doesn't seem to be afraid of humans, and that's a problem.
"Foxes are incredibly adaptable carnivores," said Joshua Kapfer, assistant professor of biology. "They love places like Whitewater because of the natural areas nearby and easy access to food. There have been instances where foxes acclimate to people and become dependent on them. When that happens, severe problems arise."
"We're concerned the fox is so comfortable here that it will eventually start approaching people or wander into a building," said Jeff Arnold, vice chancellor for administrative affairs.
The fox could become aggressive and bite someone, and there's also the threat of disease.
Campus police have tried to capture the fox using livetraps, but those efforts haven't worked. As a next step, campus police have been advised to scare it away.
You may see officers throwing rocks toward the fox, using a garden hose to spray it with water, or making loud noises. For the fox's own safety and survival, it needs to view humans as a threat again.
"We're doing everything we can to remove the animal without harming it. If it doesn't leave, the reality is that we'll have to take other actions," Arnold said. "It's not a pet. It's a wild animal."
The campus community can help by making sure the fox's food sources disappear, so that it moves off campus. Don't leave food or garbage behind on outdoor tables and benches.
"Don't feed it. Don't interact with it in any way," said Matthew Kiederlen, UW-Whitewater police chief. "Don't stop and take pictures with your cellphone. Just walk away."
Anyone who sees the fox should call the non-emergency police line 262-472-4660 to report its location.