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Photograph Gallery: San Juan Island Spring for Mama Foxes and their Child Kits

This kit on the west side of the island of San Juan apparently approached his mother for permission to breastfeed.

Foxes live on the island of San Juan in northwest Washington state, where I live. They are non-natives who were brought here in the 1930s by islanders who were trying to find a solution to dealing with the island's other main invasive species, the rabbits (which apparently started sometime in the 1850s with early British Settlers have arrived). . It didn't really work – the foxes were mostly just scattered all over the island while the rabbits stay centered on the southern end. But since foxes are not good swimmers, the species has not spread. They have stayed here and become recognized members of the island's ecosystem after surviving some difficult years in the 1990s.

These are red foxes, but there is a black / silver (technically "melanistic") variant among them. Some are red and some are black, sometimes in the same family. And every spring, fox mommies wear litters of their kits, and the islanders can enjoy watching them grow up while trying to protect them from passing cars. (It's also taboo to feed them – naturalists who looked at the starving populations we saw in the '90s realized that the problem was addiction to people. They thrive when they're alone because of it there is plenty of loot for them here.) Either way, I may have been able to enjoy some late afternoons last month and watch them from a reasonable distance with my telephoto lens in hand. I hope you enjoy the results.

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