Editor’s note: Answer Line was on assignment this week. Look for new questions and answers next week. In the meantime, enjoy this best-of column from July 2018:
QUESTION: I currently live in an apartment community in north Longview. I and other people living in the complex have had some run-ins with foxes that live in the woods near our community. One barked at me once, and another ran at me when I was walking my dog. Is there something that can be done about this?
ANSWER: Please forgive my paraphrase of your longer account of your experience. (Also, I hope the direction I sent directly to you about the city’s animal control office was helpful.)
I spoke to Chris Kemper, Longview’s animal services supervisor who oversees the animal shelter and animal control. I thought a lot of us could benefit from the general information he provided, and I know you’re in contact with him about your specific situation.
Foxes are not new to East Texas. They’re a part of our wildlife just like raccoons and skunks. We will see them in various places around town. That, in and of itself is not cause for alarm.
“The problems arise when people start thinking they’re cute — putting out food, interacting with them,” Kemper said. They get “brazen” and “curious,” he said, much like racoons.
“They can get used to seeing us as a source of food,” Kemper said. “We remind people that we want them to enjoy seeing things like that (foxes or other animals in the wild), but we do not want them to interact with or feed them.”
That can result in dangerous situations.
“Generally, that danger is created by us. It’s not necessarily created by them,” Kemper said.
Other factors can affect the behavior of a fox — or other animals. The fox population is generally healthy, Kemper said, but they still can get diseases — such as distemper, and yes, rabies although that’s not a regular occurrence — that affect their behavior, making them aggressive or causing them to stumble around.
“They can get more aggressive when they have young kits,” Kemper said. “When a momma has babies she’s going to be more protective than she would normally be. They would bark. That’s generally a warning.”
A fox running toward someone would indicate the animal felt threatened for some reason, he said. Also, foxes are a danger to stray cats or cats that are allowed to roam a neighborhood.
“Foxes will feed on small animals,” such as cats, kittens and squirrels, Kemper said.
He said his office likes to investigate complaints about wildlife so they can determine if an animal is behaving normally or if there’s a reason for its unusual behavior. Then, there are steps the animal control office could take, although there’s not a “magic bullet” solution. Dealing with wildlife is not like dealing with a stray dog, Kemper said.
To contact animal control during regular businesses hours Monday through Friday, call (903) 237-1290. In case of emergency, call 911, or for a non-emergency animal call outside of regular business hours, call the Longview Police Department at (903) 237-1199.
Q: Lobo Football Stadium needs a handrail for the benefit of the elderly and disabled. For some fans, it is difficult and unsafe to get to and from their seats. Is it possible for a handrail to be installed?
A: About half of the aisles in the stadium (home and visitor’s side) have handrails, and the district does not plan to install more.
“Lobo Stadium was made ADA compliant in 2010 when it was renovated. The district added backs to the seats on the home side, handicap seating on the top and bottom of the stadium,” and handrails said district spokeswoman Elizabeth Ross.