Sick red fox seen in Berkeley hills near Tilden

A sick, possibly mangey fox has been seen in near Tilden Park in the areas around Fairlawn and Queens Drive. Photo: Phyllis Steiber

A sick red fox has been seen near Tilden Park in the areas around Fairlawn Drive and Queens Drive. Photo: Phyllis Steiber

A mangey red fox has been seen in the Berkeley Hills near Tilden in the past few weeks, spurring varied responses by neighbors on how to deal with injured and sick wildlife, especially given the fact that the red fox is not native to California and has caused rampant ecological damage across the state.

Chris Welch, a resident of Fairlawn Drive near the edge of Tilden Park, first spotted the fox in his backyard in mid-July. He expressed concern and said it appeared to have “very advanced mange.”

Photo: Phyllis Steiber

Photo: Phyllis Steiber

Phila Rogers, who lives in the area where the fox has been seen, said there has been a wide variety of responses to the fox, including some “bleeding hearts” and others who want to “leave the poor beast alone.”

A map of the invasive species of red fox, shown in the dotted areas, and the California native red fox, in dark grey. Image: California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

The range of the red fox. Native species range is dark grey, invasive species range is  dotted. Image: California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Rogers, who has written for the Lawrence Hall of Science website on the natural history of the Berkeley Hills, said it “took [her] a minute to realize what [she] was looking at” when she first saw the fox around two weeks ago. She sees the native gray fox fairly often but hadn’t seen much of the invasive red fox in her area.

(To read up on the environmental damage invasive red foxes have caused in California, see the California Department of Fish and Wildlife article on red foxes.)

Some people may wonder if a resident can’t simply put down an injured or sick fox if it is seen on the resident’s property. To learn more about hunting regulations in California, go to the hunting and fishing regulations page of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Update, 10:35 a.m.: Steve Bobzien, an ecology services coordinator with the East Bay Regional Park District, said that, while red foxes do live in Tilden, their population is kept under control by competition with the coyote population that also lives in the area. Bobzien said the park district does not monitor the population of red foxes.

Bobzien added that, during years of drought, coyotes and both red and gray foxes are “more susceptible to mange and canine distemper.” Foaming at the mouth is a symptom of both rabies and canine distemper, he said, so be cautious if an animal appears to be foaming at the mouth and acting strangely.

If you see a noticeably ill wild animal, do not approach it, said Bobzien. Instead, call Berkeley Animal Care Services at 510-981-6600 and describe the situation to Animal Control.

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  • Rebecca Freed

    Tracey, please remove my comment. I accidentally posted it before I was ready, due to Disqus’ execrable UI. I don’t really want to get into a debate in the comments. I’ve tried to delete the comment via Disqus, apparently without success.

  • guest

    Interesting. I saw a similar report of humans acting strangely and looking not too well on Faux News just the other day.

  • kinglet749

    I have seen this fox near where I live around Scott Newhall Path. It is very sickly looking and acted strangely, walking casually down the street in midday, unafraid of people. I will definitely call animal control the next time I see it.

  • AlanTobey

    Sad to see a sick red fox that apparently won’t be jumping over any more lazy dogs.

  • Guest

    Any animal behaving in that way should be assumed to be rabid (it might not be rabies, but it is safest to make the assumption). Rabies causes animals to abandon their normal behaviors – foxes are normally extremely shy of humans, raccoons and bats are nocturnal, etc. If you see a striking deviation from that behavior, watch out.

  • foxy cleopatra

    I think you’ve confused him with the quick brown fox, yes yes.

  • Markh

    Leave the little sentient creature alone.

  • Gabe

    Last Friday around 2 pm, I too saw the fox on Parnassus Rd. At first I thought it was a small dog. Then when I got closer, I was startled to realize it was a fox. It just passed me and walked casually down Parnassus, then turned left into West Parnassus Court. The experience was quite surreal.

  • Guest

    Absolutely agree – the fox should be captured and tested for rabies.