Red foxes are not uncommon in Island Beach State Park but being able to see them is purely a matter of luck. The park population does not seem to be particularly afraid of people but they do tend to stay hidden most of the time. This species is very adaptable. It can also be found in many parts of North America that are a lot more developed than Island Beach.
PLEASE DO NOT FEED OR TRY TO GET TO CLOSE TO ANY FOXES YOU ENCOUNTER! If a fox becomes well acclimated to being fed by humans, they may begin to engage in riskier behavior that will lead to them getting run over by a car. Red foxes are also skinny creatures, so while they look like they could use some food they are probably eating just fine without any help from us. The foxes have plenty of natural food sources within the park!
Red foxes do not have a specific diet. They will eat invertebrates (from insects to mollusks to crabs), can hunt small animals (there are plenty of mice and rabbits in the park) and will even eat parts of plants, especially fresh fruits (beach plums?). We can speculate that they may be able to get a lot of food from things that wash ashore on the beach, human refuse they come out and find at night and small mammals such as mice and rabbits. This would of course be supplemented by any number of other things they can find or capture.
Here is a video of a late May sighting of a female red fox (a vixen) with three of her young pups. Just in case your wondering, litters can range from 2 to 12 pups. The vixen looks a little rough but most of this is just what we take from what we see. Red foxes are not heavy and when they lose their bulkier winter coat they look very skinny to us. Yet they are naturally lean. This individual is also dealing with all the needs of her pups, which as any mother knows, can be quite a chore. The commentary that is below the video also explains a bit about this adult's odd looking coat of fur.
The person who took this video was kind enough to share her stories of seeing these and other foxes in Island Beach State Park....
I have the privilege of enjoying the beauty of IBSP year round. As a cyclist, I take advantage of the great bike route there, and enjoy the changing seasons, migrating birds and various creatures that inhabit the island on a nearly daily basis.
On frequent occasions, I have seen foxes crossing the road, or sitting next to the road – seemingly looking for ‘hand-outs’ and not too terribly afraid of people… I know that feeding the wild animals is NOT good, NOR kind. But one little fox particularly caught my attention over and over again, to the point where I could recognize her from her physical condition, which concerned me. So a few weeks ago, I stopped at the gate house on my way out of the park and spoke to the Naturalist there. I was assured that the fox I saw – was a “Momma fox” and that she’d been pulling her tail and hind fur out - to pad, and soften her bed in preparation for the babies she was expecting.
Well, sure enough, I was in the park late in the afternoon on Thursday, May 21, 2009 and on my way out I saw “Momma Fox”… She was standing – rather splayed out - on the side of the road…the awkwardness of her stance caught my attention… but then, I saw – amazingly - that she had 3, little fluffy, orange babies, nursing beneath her!!!!! I grabbed the camera as fast as I could… (I actually HAD it!) and filmed her!!!!!!! The babies had tumbled off before I could video them nursing… but it was amazing and thrilling to be able to witness such a beautiful thing… Hope you enjoy the video!
I appreciate Jennifer sharing her tales about the park's foxes here. I encourage everyone to check out her website and find out all about her wonderful musical talents - the instruments she plays, her songs and her CDs. Jennifer and her band also play local venues in and around Ocean County.
Getting back to the foxes, you may also want to see this set of photographs from a 2008 Island Beach red fox encounter. The pictures there are also accompanied by some commentary fox sightings in Island Beach State Park.