You can look, but don’t touch young wildlife of spring
PEQUOT LAKES, Minn. — Anyone who has watched “Bambi” is aware of the abundance of newborn animals that arrive with spring.
Whether rural or urban, residents will start seeing an influx of young wildlife now that it's spring.
“The most common things in the Brainerd wildlife area are small mammals ranging from squirrels and mice ... but wherever you find prey, there will be larger mammals like fox and coyotes that frequent the Brainerd lakes area,” said Nathan Thom, assistant area wildlife manager with the Department of Natural Resources in Brainerd. “Woodchucks, skunks, raccoon, and moving up from there, a lot of deer.”
Some animals will avoid areas with significant human traffic, but others seem instead to thrive on developed properties. For example, just outside the DNR office building in Brainerd is a fox den, burrowed underneath the sidewalk. Thom theorized the mother fox chose that location in part because the walkway is heated in the winter. Animals will tend to shelter where they feel the likelihood of survival is greater.
“We have reports of fawns being laid down next to people's decks and things like that basically because they perceive that as a safe spot from predators, which is very cool,” Thom said.
On a similar note, a litter of nine fox kits was spotted living in a den on the Echo Journal property this spring. Thom suggested the mother, who had a healthy, successful winter leading to her birthing nine kits, found resources and shelter on the newspaper’s property that convinced her the location was a good fit.
“It's a full-time job, raising especially nine kits, so you have to have a lot of food,” Thom said. “It depends on how much prey is in the area.”
Just as prey animals seek shelter in residential areas where they might avoid predation, some savvy predators might find prey animals more abundant and easier targets. As a result, even some larger predators may leave the safety of the woods to visit town.
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