Red Fox: The Catlike Canine BOOK REVIEW
Originally published in the Probe. Official newsletter of the National Animal
Damage Control Assoc. For other items published in the Probe by Stephen Vantassel
click Probe. If you would like your product
reviewed click Review.
J. David Henry. Red Fox: The Catlike Canine. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution
Press, 1986. pp. 5-177 with index.
Henry has produced an extremely informative and readable book about the red
fox. The book is the distillation of Henry's field observations of fox behavior
while in Saskatchewan's Prince Albert National Park. This area was chosen because
foxes have not been trapped here in over fifty years.
The author dutifully covers necessary topics about fox biology. Chapters cover
courtship, diet, hunting habits and anatomy. But don't be left with the impression
that this is a sterile biology book filled with eye glazing facts and figures.
Instead the author discusses the topics with a masterful style that only comes
from one who has truly learned about the fox. He properly talks about fox behavior
in general terms without getting bogged down into all the exceptions often required
by more rigid scientific texts. Readers will be pleasantly educated by those
passages where the author dialogs with broader biological theories concerning
animal development and behavior.
As one who has never trapped fox, I found Henry's observations on fox urinating
habits to be quite interesting. This is especially true in light of all the
talk about fox urine in trapping fox in the various trapping guides. First,
foxes rarely if ever release more than one ounce of urine at one time. In fact,
he noted that fox tend to urinate a little at a lot of different times. Second,
he found that scent posts, those areas where foxes mark their territory, constituted
only 12% of their urinating behavior. Urine posts ere only refreshed about once
every two days. Finally, he discovered that the majority of fox urination centered
around their scavenging activities. Foxes urinated when they found even the
suggestion of food.
More importantly for animal controllers is the author's discoveries regarding
the way foxes cache food. What he discovered was that a fox can survive on one
pound of meat per day. Thus when foxes gather more food, they store it for a
rainy day. He found that foxes were careful to spread the food out into various
caches. This way the fox prevents losing all the food should a cache be discovered
by various robbers. A cache is made by digging out a small hole only a few inches
into the soil. Foxes carefully remove surface debris, dig the hole, bury the
food, and recover the site by precisely reversing the steps so that the surface
debris is added last. The reason for this precise work is to camouflage the
location. The hole can't be too deep otherwise the fox won't be able to smell
it. Neither can it be too shallow for the food will spoil. What was interesting
about their activity is that a fox never urinates where it caches food. Henry
discovered that foxes urinate only where the food smell suggested food but that
there wasn't any usable food available. He also discovered that were the food
odor was particularly persistent like would be with a bone, the fox would mark
the site with feces.
You might be wondering about the reasons why fox trappers are successful using
urine along with bait in trapping fox if foxes urinate where there is no food.
Well, Dr. Henry also found that if the smell of food was particularly strong,
foxes would ignore the urine and dig after the food. I might also point out
that Charlie Dobbins in his newly released video "The Dirt Hole and Its
Variations" makes his sets to exploit these fox caching characteristics.
For example, he uses fox urine when he wants the fox to think that there is
no food in the hole and trap it as it investigates. I hope this information
will help you reevaluate your use of urine in catching foxes. For chances are
your using too much and in the wrong situations.
If your looking for a book on foxes, I would strongly suggest this one by Mr.
Henry. I am sure that it will assist you in appreciating the wonderment of this
beautiful creature as well as help you understand how to catch him. Understand
that this text is not a trapping manual. but I am confident that it will help
you You should be able to find the book at the library of your local college
or University. But if you would like to own the book you can still purchase
it by calling your local book store and have them order it. The hardcover price
quoted to me was 28 dollars and I assume plus shipping.
Update. It is now in paperback and costs around ten dollars.
To Order from Amazon.com Click ORDER
Fox Damage Control Information
Stephen Vantassel is a Certified
Wildlife Control Professional. He is a nationally known writer including
having been an assistant editor for Wildlife Control Technology magazine, author
of numerous ADC articles as well as The Wildlife Removal
Handbook rev.ed and the Wildlife Damage Inspection
Handbook rev. ed. Mr. Vantassel is also a vocal critic of the growing animal
rights movement. He has exposed the fallacies and deceptions of the animal
rights protest industry through debate, lecture and publication.
Disclaimer: WDC seeks to provide accurate, effective and responsible information
on resolving human/wildlife conflicts. We welcome suggestions, criticisms to
help us achieve this goal. The information provided is for informational purposes
only and users of the information use it at their own risk. The reader must
consult state/federal officials to determine the legality of any technique in
the reader's locale. Some techniques are dangerous to the user and to others.
WDC encourages readers to obtain appropriate training (see our informational
literature at our Store ), and understand that proper animal damage
control involves patience, understanding that not every technique/method works
for every situation or even 100% of the time. Your use of this information is
governed by this understanding.
We welcome potential users of the information
and photos to simply ask for permission via e-mail. Finally, WDC welcomes
e-mail but understand that all e-mails become property of Wildlife Damage Control.