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They’re cute, but please don’t feed them. Foxes draw crowds at Shillito Park.

Foxes draw crowds at Shillito Park but please don’t feed them

Every early evening, Shillito Park is host to dog walkers, joggers, bikers, and recently, a group of red foxes. They’ve started attracting plenty of attention, and seem practically tame as they pose for the numerous photographers who gather around.
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Every early evening, Shillito Park is host to dog walkers, joggers, bikers, and recently, a group of red foxes. They’ve started attracting plenty of attention, and seem practically tame as they pose for the numerous photographers who gather around.

Every early evening, Shillito Park is host to dog walkers, joggers, bikers, and recently, a group of red foxes.

They’ve started attracting plenty of attention, and seem practically tame as they pose for the numerous photographers who gather around. And while they are cute, playful and seemingly unafraid of humans, it’s not a great situation, said Mike Lorton, superintendent of natural areas for Lexington’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“We don’t want them to become so unafraid of humans that they bite them,” Lorton said.

People should not feed the foxes, Lorton said. In addition to making the foxes more dangerous, the food can hurt the young foxes’ ability to hunt for themselves.

Foxes are becoming a more common urban animal because humans have developed their natural habitat. Foxes also have turned to more inhabited areas as coyotes, which eat foxes, are becoming more common in Kentucky.

Signs will be going up soon to warn people about the foxes, which usually appear early morning and early evening. They’re too smart to be trapped and moved, but Lorton said a campaign to “encourage” them to move will start, probably with mothballs or citronella near their den. “It doesn’t hurt them, it’s just annoying,” Lorton said.

The railroad tracks provide wildlife like foxes safe passage from place to place, which is probably how they end up in places like Shillito or McConnell Springs, where Lorton has also seen them.

Firefighter Andy Banks arrives at the Shillito fire house around 6 a.m. every morning. He often sees two or three foxes playing on the hill behind the building. “They don’t run off until people get pretty close,” he said.

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