Love him or hate him. The Red Fox is Clear Lake’s newest permanent resident

by Lowell Washburn

I wish I had kept track of how many calls I’ve received this year regarding the dramatic invasion of red fox into the residential neighborhoods of Clear Lake and Ventura.

There have been “fox on my patio” calls -- Fox crossing the deck, fox under the deck, fox walking down the front sidewalk, fox with pups by the garden, fox chasing squirrels, fox chowing down on squirrels, and fox begging for food in the Ventura school yard.  The list goes on.

Where I live in the Oakwood area of Clear Lake’s south shore, fox populations are through the roof.  Earlier this week, I watched as an adult red fox trotted down South Shore Drive completely ignoring afternoon traffic, including those vehicles who slowed and honked for the fox to yield the right of way.

There have been other incidents.  While I was out fishing one morning, my wife Carol called to report that a fox was sitting beneath our dining room window tame as could be, acting as if it owned the place.  Later in the summer, I was in the backyard messing with a turkey call when an adult fox came running to my position.  Hoping for a turkey dinner, the fox was obviously disappointed – but not overly alarmed - when it discovered that I was the source of the yelping.  Instead of running the other way, the fox merely viewed me with obvious disdain.

So, why is a predator best known for its elusive nature and crafty wariness, suddenly moving into town to take up residence in areas that probably haven’t seen a red fox since the 1800s?

Although theories abound, no one can say for sure.  An abundance of food may be part of the answer.  Red fox are omnivorous which, in Northern Iowa, means they’ll eat just about anything from berries and insects to birds, squirrels and table scraps.  Most residential neighborhoods are loaded with food – especially squirrels and rabbits, which are two of the fox’s favorite taste treats.

Enhanced security may provide another reason for a wild fox to become

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