Bylaw officers will soon patrol the area where a fox family has made its den under the beach boardwalk in the east end.
Earlier this week, city staff erected barricades around the fox den, in order to protect the animals and encourage people to continue practicing physical distancing from and around the foxes.
However, according to the Toronto Wildlife Centre, those blockades have not stopped people from crowding around the area.
“Photographers and other viewers who are trying to capture a glimpse of the family are continuing to break social distancing rules and disturb the family,” the centre shared on Facebook, alongside an image of people gathering around the area at night.
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As a result of the continued crowding, the Toronto Wildlife Centre says that additional fencing has been ordered for placement at the beach. A camera has also been set up to monitor the well-being of the animals, and the way humans are acting around them.
“TWC volunteers are now taking shifts to prevent people from feeding the kits and to perform aversive conditioning during daylight hours to help the foxes re-learn their natural fear of people,” the centre wrote on social media.
“Although the adults are cautious, the family now sees humans as no threat and are associating them with food after their babies have been fed numerous times. This behaviour could ultimately cause their deaths.”
The centre said that in some cases, dog owners have allowed their pets to approach the kits, and as a result, the young foxes are no longer fearful.
“But foxes need to learn to avoid dogs who can easily kill them. Although it seems unpleasant, aversive actions (like chasing them and making loud noises to scare them) will ultimately save their lives. It’s critical that they learn a healthy fear of people as they grow into adult wild animals,” the Toronto Wildlife Centre said.
“Shockingly, people continue to surround the den around dawn and late in the evening despite the fencing and warning signs explaining the risks to the fox family. Last night, two photographers and a handful of people shone flashlights on the foxes and ignored social distancing to disturb the family.”
In order to prevent this issue from continuing, bylaw officers will now be patrolling the area in the evening. The Toronto Wildlife Centre asks that anyone who sees groups of people gathering around or feeding the foxes to report the situation to 311.