Home Back Forward July 14, 2002: The Foxes Are Back

"Blue", the Fox, explores our fence

Blue looks at me from under the gate

Decides to crawl under the fence.

Blue looks me in the eye

We let the fox have access to our yard

(Click on any Image to see a higher resolution version)


Foxes Poached in the Winter of 2000
Returning to Kambalnoye Lake camp, in the spring, 2 years ago was unsettling. Someone had broken into our cabin and obviously stayed for a while. An extra wood heater, stored in the adjoining shed, was unpacked and set up inside the cabin. Axe marks on the floor indicated where wood had been chopped. Who and why had someone stayed here? We feared it had been bear poachers. After much inquiring around the ranger circuit we discovered that the ranger based at the mouth of the Kambalnoye River that winter had received some of his payment in a permit to trap fox. On a trip to check our cabin, they had clearly seen a mosaic of fox sign and proceeded to stay to trap as many as possible. This seemed like very normal procedure for Preserve rangers and they were horrified at the extent of my anger. I had spent time, since 1996, our first year here, tracking foxes to their den sites and making friends with the many kits. They became so accepting of us, they would join us when we walked with our cubs. Or they would stop by our cabin to entice us out to talk to them. Visitors to Kambalnoye were treated to having a fox romp across the tundra to say hello. When I explained my anger to Kronotsky Preserve Officials, they were apologetic and promised to not again come into the cabin with the intent to trap fox.

The Return of the Fox

The summer of 2000, following the winter when my fox friends had been slaughtered, I did not see one fox. I kept imagining Squint, my favorite, as part of someone's neckpiece or his tail flying off an antenna on a car! The same story in 2001. However, I found some tracks two miles north of the cabin. This year upon returning, I spotted a fox regularly crossing the snowdrift in nearby Bearskull Bay. Soon I saw tracks around camp. Last week, one came by and stopped outside our electric fence as I talked to him. Yesterday he returned. We often leave the fence off during the day and this rascal not only knew there was no electricity but that we don't power the lower two wires. He walked around the perimeter, peaked under the gate and crawled under the lower wire. I was pretty excited to have a fox friend again and decided to let him explore our yard. At home, in Alberta, I have had to hang a grid of small wires off our electric fence to keep foxes away from our chickens. Here we don't really mind. They aren't up to any harm. I laughed when he came up to me to look me directly in the eye. Years ago studying dingoes, in Australia, I noticed the same behavior. Both species want to see deep into your eyes. I decided to call this one Blue. He had walked through some of my paint of that color.

Hot, Beautiful Weather Continues

Every year we both anticipate the many weeks of fog, rain and high wind. This year in the 30 days we have been here, we have had 24 days of sunny skies with only breaths of moving air. We love it and so do some of the bears. With little rain, the water level is dropping in the river. 45 bears were lined up yesterday, in the shallower water, to pick off the many salmon struggling to run the gauntlet of snapping teeth. Other bears of the area are high on surrounding hills, not so keen on the clear skies, lying on snow to avoid the bugs and stay cool. We are actually hoping for a heavy rain soon. Last year around 8,000 salmon spawned in Kambalnoye Lake. Only a few hundred have made it so far.

- Maureen

© Lenticular Productions Ltd. 2002