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Teton Park tries to find solution to fox problem

Aug 31, 2017 From wire reports

JACKSON (AP) -- Put a smart, notoriously curious species near people and human food, and habituation is bound to occur. In Grand Teton National Park, that human-canine clash has manifested itself in red foxes posting up near ice fishing holes on Jackson Lake, waiting for meals of lake trout guts. There have even been reports of foxes taking a cue from bad-behaving dogs and jumping up onto people to try to swipe a meal out of hand.

An "unfortunate reality," Teton National Park wildlife biologistStephenson said, is that foxes exhibiting such bold behavior may have to be euthanized in the future.

"That's a worst-case scenario," he said, "but it definitely is a possible outcome."

Nine foxes have been fitted with tracking equipment at Moose, at Teton Science Schools' Kelly campus and near Signal Mountain. Three more research animals were sought in the Colter Bay area, but the foxes outsmarted park wildlife crews, thanks partly to trap-triggering pine martens.

"Over the last 30 years," Stephenson said, "we're seeing more and more den sites and encroachment into developed areas."

In the early going Stephenson is starting to accumulate information about the species' movements and distribution in Jackson Hole. There have been reports of foxes in the Tetons as high as Marion Lake, at 10,450 feet.

One animal marked near Moose wound up dead in the Flat Creek bog just north of Jackson, likely the casualty of a vehicle strike on Highway 89. Two others have died, both of unknown causes.

Another goal is to learn what omnivorous foxes are eating.

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2017-09-24

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