toronto foxes

Bylaw officers set to patrol Woodbine Beach to stop people from bothering the foxes

A family of wild foxes has been living under the Woodbine Beach boardwalk since April and, despite endless calls from the City and wildlife experts to leave them alone, it seems people still aren't getting the message. 

In a lengthy message posted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the Toronto Wildlife Centre wrote that higher fencing has been erected in the area to prevent people from feeding the fox and her kits. 

"More fencing has been ordered to be placed on the beach, since some passersby are attempting to continue to view the animals. A camera has also been set up to monitor the well-being of the fox family, along with the actions of the public," they wrote.

They said TWC volunteers will also be taking shifts to discourage people from gathering and to "perform aversive conditioning during daylight hours to help the foxes re-learn their natural fear of people."

"Although the adults are cautious, the family now sees humans as no threat and are associating them with food after their babies have been fed numerous times. This behaviour could ultimately cause their deaths," TWC wrote.

They said some residents have even let their dogs approach the kits, rendering them no longer fearful, which is a problem since foxes need to learn to avoid dogs as they can easily kill them. 

"Although it seems unpleasant, aversive actions (like chasing them and making loud noises to scare them) will ultimately save their lives," they added. "It’s critical that they learn a healthy fear of people as they grow into adult wild animals."

But the TWC says people continue to surround the den despite fencing and warnings explaining the risks to the fox family, and recently two photographers and a handful of people shone flashlights on the animals and ignored social distancing to disturb the family at night. 

As a result, Toronto bylaw officers will now also be conducting an evening patrol to prevent this from happening again. They're asking anyone who sees groups of people — which is also dangerous due to COVID-19— around the foxes, or anyone feeding them, to please report it to 311 or the city. 

"Additional signage was also mounted to educate the public and inform them of the risks surrounding the negative impact of interacting with these foxes," they wrote, "especially babies at a crucial developmental stage."

Lead photo by

Toronto Wildlife Centre


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