Sunday, January 22, 2006

Red Foxes in Yellowknife

Like so many wildlife stories in the mass media, this one raises more questions than it answers.
A 15-year-old boy was playing in his front yard Wednesday night in freezing weather when a fox destroyed his soccer ball and made off with an iced cappuccino.

The animal did not lunge or act aggressively, but the boy's family, who've lived in Yellowknife for years, had never seen a fox so bold. "In Yellowknife, a fox's diet includes cappuccino to go," CBC News, Jan 20, 2006.

Fox? What kind of fox hangs around in Yellowknife, NWT? CBC kindly provided a link to the Hinterland Who's Who page for the red fox. And their range map definitely shows this fox in the Arctic.

Canadian Wildlife Service

So the animal involved was a red fox. But what was really going on? Winter in Yellowknife and a 15-year-old boy is in the front yard, playing. A soccer ball is clearly involved--practicing heading the ball perhaps. The fox comes along, grabs a loose ball? Has trouble getting hold of it. Bites too hard--destroys the ball. Understandable, the fox had probably never played soccer before.

It's the role played by the iced cappuccino that's giving me trouble. I'm guessing it came from a Tim Horton's, they're everywhere, and popular beyond reason. And I can't imagine anyone making one for himself in the middle of winter. So an iced cappuccino in a paper cup.

Is the boy carrying it? Or has he set it down while he practices his soccer moves? Since the fox reportedly "did not lunge or act aggressively," I assume the drink had been set down nearby rather than being in the boy's hand. Freezing temperatures, so iced cap will keep.

A boy playing with a soccer ball, iced cappuccino sitting nearby. A fox comes to join in the game, but it goes wrong. Game called due to soccer ball destruction, the fox delicately picks up the paper cup of icy sweetness (yes, very, very sweet) and leaves.

But how, oh how, can a fox who "destroyed" a soccer ball pick up a paper cup and succeed in making off with it without destroying the cup and losing the treat?


Anonymous said...

Hi Pamela,

As you can see by the distribution map we have Red fox up here in addition to the Arctic Fox. I've mostly seen the Cross Fox variety here. And since I no longer make the daily commute between here and Nanisivik I haven't seen any for awhile.

Unfortunately a fox that bold has a good chance of being rabid. Rabies is very common among fox in the Arctic. In fact I recall reading an article that stated that one of the two strains of Rabies probably originated in Arctic Foxes

John B. said...

This news story definitely calls for more explanation.

Pamela Martin said...

Clare: I hope rabies wasn't the cause--there is apparently a substantial population of citified foxes in Yellowknife--rabies would cause a lot of trouble. I didn't know rabies was a problem among arctic foxes. But then I also didn't know that red foxes and arctic foxes occurred together until now. The red fox, like the coyote, seems to be enormously adaptable.

John: Yes, it's really the soccer ball that makes me want to know more. I've seen a tiger wreck a soccer ball in one bite (on a childrens' animal show: Zaboomafoo--probably not spelled right), but I think a fox would have to spend some significant amount of time working on it.

Anonymous said...

And who knows what may actually be in a TiHo Iced Cappuccino? Surely, aside from all the sugar, there may be some delicious petroleum by-product masquerading as cream, or some such thing that may have attracted the fox?

Pamela Martin said...

TiHo--I like that. First I've heard it , but I'll use it. I found another version of the story from CBC North, the original I assume, that actually makes sense, though still a very bold fox: Freaky fox nabs youth's ice-cap

Anonymous said...

I don't know...this sounds suspiciously like an Aesop's fable: The Boy, the Fox, the Soccer Ball, and the Iced Cappuccino. The Fox is meant to exemplify cleverness, but I still can't imagine the moral of the story!

Anonymous said...

The foxes aren't rabid, just cityfied. I observed a couple of foxes sitting on my back deck (in the middle of downtown Yellowknife) a couple of days before the soccer ball attack. I've posted about it, with a couple of pictures I took of the foxes at my own blog on You'll have to scroll down a ways to find the first entry, but it's there.

Pamela Martin said...

ykshaun: Thanks for the link--enjoyed the pictures of the fox, and the story.

viagra online said...

I have always wanted to see a red fox! I heard they represent good luck for those who have had the opportunity of seeing them.