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NNSL Photo/graphic

While close encounters between foxes and humans are rare, pets remain more at risk of coming into contact with the animal. Because fox are "big carriers of rabies" this can pose serious health risks to people living in a region with a high fox population. - NNSL file photo

Foxes on the run

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Dec 09/05) - The number of foxes in and around town has dramatically increased this season and regional Environment and Natural Resources officials are urging the public to be cautious.

"We want to discourage (foxes) from encountering pets," said ENR Conservation and Education Officer Daryl English. Foxes are "big carriers of rabies" and he said although they rarely approach humans, the concern is that pets could be infected and in turn pass the disease to humans.

In October and November of this year, renewable resources officers trapped 21 foxes around Inuvik, compared to 13 trapped between October 2004 and February 2005.

Department representatives in the Inuvik region are asking residents not to let their pets wander loose or leave garbage or pet food for wildlife to find. As well, people should report any wild animal in the community immediately to a renewable resource officer.

"If you or a family member has had contact with any wild animal, this should be reported immediately to the health centre," reads an ENR press release. "People can contract the disease by either being bitten or by handling an infected animal."

At the municipal landfill, Albert Bernhardt of AB Salvage said he, too, has noticed more foxes this season.

"I don't know how many families are down by (Boot) lake but 20 of them have been trapped and there's a whole slew of them still," he said. "I was talking to one of the trappers who said he's started to trap them up the hill towards the dump and the valley behind."

Bernhardt said the foxes are attracted to the dump to scavenge the garbage for food scraps and suspects that's the reason more of them are wandering around town as well.

ENR attributed the population spike to natural cycles that ebb and flow over time and Bernhardt agreed he's seen a similar cycle.

"Sometimes you get nothing and sometimes they're everywhere, it's just the cycle I guess."