SUBURBAN BOYNTON BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Residents in a Boynton Beach subdivision are on edge after seeing an increased number of foxes running around the neighborhood.
Lois Miller, who has lived in Sandhurst for 12 years, said a fox growled at her and her puppy almost two weeks ago.
Miller was leaving her home to walk her dog. The fox was five feet away from her front door.
Neighbors said they've had the same experience and are convinced the foxes will eventually attack them or their pets.
Miller said the animals were never aggressive until the female gave birth to a litter of five, several weeks ago. "It is their habitat, and they do deserve to live back there. There's woods in the back, but now they're invading my home and they're making me in fear, and I'm really scared for my dog and I know that I would protect her. If it attacks her. I'm gonna protect her, so it's gonna attack me also," said Miller.
Miller's 9-month-old puppy has been using the bathroom in the garage because she fears taking her outside.
Now the residents just want the foxes removed but are having problems finding trappers.
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Executive Director David Hitzig said this is the time of year when fox litters are born and so the mothers will get aggressive to protect her young.
Hitzig says gray foxes are very common in our area but it's very rare though that they'll attack someone unless they feel threatened.
Hitzig said, "When they have their babies around, they're going to want to protect their babies, so the most that they do is probably just a little bit of a bluff so they're going OK, maybe if I give out a little bark or a growl, you'll leave me alone and my babies in the bushes over there will be fine."
Hitzig said the best thing to do is keep your distance. He said eventually the mother will take her young and move on when the food supply in that area runs out.
But people tend to feed the animalS and don't realize they're contributing to the problem. "I always tell people, don't try to feed them. Some people think 'Oh, she has babies, we need to help'. No, let her do what she does naturally. Let nature take its course, and that will be the best thing," said Hitzig.
He also said there's no government agency that will come trap the animal for free. Most trappers run in the hundreds of dollars.
Hitzig said save your money because eventually the foxes will leave and if you do trap them and try to relocate them, it usually causes stress that increases the mortality rate.
He said patience is key.