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Foxy city dwellers

Out in the woods, coyotes and red foxes don’t like each other. Coyotes, being bigger, will kill foxes because they compete to eat a lot of the same foods.

When the two animals move into towns and cities, though, their behavior changes. Researchers in the city of Madison, Wisconsin, found this out by trapping, collaring and tracking 11 coyotes and 12 red foxes for a year.

Some of the animals lived close to each other and even visited the same areas. One coyote went to a fox’s home, called a den, several times over about two weeks. The fox and its babies, called kits, must have felt safe, though, because they didn’t leave their home.

Coyotes get first dibs on choosing where they would like to live, also because they are larger. Coyotes would rather live in wooded places. Red foxes, maybe because coyotes were living in the woods, made their home closer to humans’ houses.

Although the foxes and coyotes may not want to live near each other, the researchers found that the animals didn’t seem to mind eating close to one another, and the animals minded their own business. No growling, snarling or barking during dinner.

Why would these animals’ behavior be different in the city compared to when they lived outside of towns? The researchers believe it is because there is plenty of food available, so the animals don’t have to fight each other for a meal.

Both animals are crepuscular, which means they roam around looking for food from when the sun goes down until the early morning. That way they can avoid humans in the city, or other animals in the woods.

— Brett French,

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