Family of foxes on campus educational, eye-catching - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Family of foxes on campus educational, eye-catching

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A family of red foxes has become a fixture on the UW-Madison campus, contributing to scientific research, and becoming an attractions for dozens of students.

The frequent sighting of the vixen and her eight young, known as kits, has led to an area on Linden Drive being roped off, to protect their den. Associate professor in forest and wildlife ecology David Drake tells 27 News students in droves have assembled along the ropes to watch the foxes romp and play on the grassy area near the den, seemingly undisturbed by all the watching eyes.

Drake says the fox family arrived on campus last fall, with the kits born in late February.

He says red foxes have adapted to urban environments.

Senior student Holly Hovanec took the presence of the foxes as an opportunity to expand a research project on coyotes, ot include foxes.  Hovanec was able to place a radio-tracking collar  on the male fox of the group.  The collar and the campus presence of the family have allowed Hovanec to study their habitat, interactions, and travels.

Drake says the male fox was killed Friday, when hit by a car some four miles from the den on University Avenue. Drake says vehicle traffic is one of the foremost risks for red foxes, as they adopt more urban settings.

Drake says the vixen and the kits continue to appear at various times on campus, but especially on the grass near their adopted campus home. Drake says in a few months, the vixen will push her maturing kits out of her territory as the kits begin to establish themselves as adults.

Another measure of the foxes' celebrity is the UW's School of Human Ecology's Facebook effort to name the foxes.

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