Wildlife

Letter | Myrtle Beach fox invasion poses danger to other animals, people

May 14, 2014 

We moved into our house in March 2000. The wetland in front and the lush wooded area around was populated with an abundance of rabbits and squirrels.

About three years ago the foxes showed up. As I was walking my two dogs by my neighbor’s property last year there were five foxes in my neighbor’s yard, one in the drive, one on a hedge, and three lying in the lawn. They did not run or act the least bit frightened of me or my two dogs.

Since the arrival of the foxes, the rabbits have all but disappeared except about a month ago we found a large rabbit the foxes had killed and dragged into the driveway. Lately we have seen evidence of squirrel parts scattered in the yard. There have been reports of missing cats by the neighbors. Each evening the foxes are damaging the well lights in our yard, and have burrowed two large holes under our deck. They litter the yard with trash and excrement.

I called animal control and asked if they would pick up a fox if we trapped it. The person told me that animal control will not pick up a trapped fox. I then asked what can I do with the fox, and was told I could either let it go or kill it. I asked what method of execution I should use to kill the fox. He said I should use a humane method but I could not shoot it since it is illegal to discharge a firearm in the city. I asked if it is legal for me to cut their throats, and he said that would be OK. Executing the fox with a bow and arrow is also permissible, I learned. He reminded me that it is my responsibility to bury the fox.

I didn’t think much of the advice I received from animal control so I called and spoke to a representative of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, who confirmed that the DNR does not trap animals nor will they pick them up even if we trap them. I asked if it is legal to kill these animals and was told it is. The person I spoke with said I could hire an animal removal service that will come to the house and take the trapped fox. Of course, they charge for each animal they remove. I asked, what does the animal removal service do with the animals and he said they kill them.

I reminded him that several years ago the DNR set a trap in the wetland and all they trapped was a large dog who howled to high heaven. Two officers showed up and removed the cage, saying that it is almost impossible to catch a fox. The man at DNR said the law had changed and they no longer trap animals.

The fox population is expanding rapidly. It is not uncommon to see foxes strolling the beach and Ocean Boulevard. I guess we will have to wait until a person is attacked by a fox before our local government representatives decide to take action.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach

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