JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
Jim Watson, 633d Civil Engineer Squadron pest management supervisor, has received reports of a fox that had charged a contractor near the 633d Medical Group.
The 633 CES set humane traps for the fox, which displayed aggressive behavior; as of publishing, the fox has not been caught.
According to Watson, reports from multiple occasions highlighted that people from different organizations had been feeding foxes since early spring.
“Animals that humans routinely feed will behave aggressively in response to the cessation of feeding,” Watson said. “The fox charging was likely due to the fox becoming habituated to being fed by humans.”
Individuals who feed wild animals may do so with good intentions. Still, more often than not, those interactions can cause adverse effects on the surrounding wildlife.
“When you feed wildlife, some of the things that people may choose to feed them may not have the nutrients that the wildlife needs,” said Alicia Garcia, 633d CES natural resources program manager. “The other issue is that it changes their behavior when we allow wildlife to see humans, not as a threat, but rather as a source of food. It can cause them to become aggressive or to change the way they typically interact with humans, which often results in euthanasia.”
Not only can feeding wildlife have adverse reactions to the animals, but it can also endanger public health.
“It doesn’t take [diseases] a lot of mutation to jump from an animal species to a human species. Those interactions between people and animals can also put humans in danger,” Garcia said. “I think we have enough public health concerns on our plates at this particular juncture in time. We don’t need to add another one.”
In addition to the potential harm that can come to humans and animals alike, it is also a violation of the code of Virginia 4VAC15-40-286 and base policy to feed wild animals.
Garcia has some advice for individuals who may encounter wildlife at some point.
“Enjoy it and leave it alone. [The] best thing people can do to keep things safe and keep themselves safe is just keeping wild things wild and leave it alone,” Garcia said.
For more information on how feeding wildlife can hurt its survival, go to https://dwr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/feeding-wildlife-food-for-thought.pdf.