Provincial Animal

The red fox is the provincial animal of Prince Edward Island

The provincial animal of Prince Edward Island is the red fox. The Provincial Emblems and Honours Act was amended in June 2018 to include an animal emblem and states "the animal known scientifically as Vulpes vulpes and popularly known as the red fox, is adopted as the animal emblem of the province."
Foxes were an economic underpinning to the provincial economy for about 100 years. The fox-farming industry began in 1890 in western Prince Edward Island when a couple of businessmen captured black and silver-coloured foxes and began a secret breeding experiment.

These two pioneers earned millions of dollars selling the pelts. Eventually they sold breeding stock to others, and foxes became an industry that boomed several times, making and losing fortunes for thousands of Island farmers.

Many kept a few dozen foxes on their mixed family farms until just a few decades ago. The last recorded live fox show was held near Summerside, PEI in 2006, at which time there were about two dozen breeders.

A little known fact is that all PEI foxes are red foxes, even if their coat is black or silver; they are all the same species.

Foxes are sly and crafty creatures and have adapted very well to living among residents of the Island, in both rural and urban areas. They are playful and love to steal shoes, golf balls and children's toys to chew on like a dog. And they are on the move!  Foxes have a large territorial range of between 40 to 160 square hectares but spend most of their time in a range of seven to 40 hectares or less.

Foxes usually have four to six kits (babies) but some as many as nine.  Typically, they are born in March after mating in January or early February. The male will stay with the female and help raise the young and then move on. They live in dens dug out of the earth, primarily to raise their young, but also use to rest during other times of the year.  The kits stay close to their mother for nine to twelve weeks then strike out on their own.

Red foxes are very capable of finding their own food even in winter.  They have a keen sense of smell, hearing and vibration which is how they detect mice far under the snow in the winter.  In other seasons they eat everything from twigs and leaves to worms and seeds. They hunt for frogs, mice and birds, and take advantage of other dead animals when found

The main predators of the red fox on PEI are coyotes, along with motor vehicles that kill many baby foxes each year as they try to cross the road.

Foxes are still hunted on Prince Edward Island - some 400 to 700 each year.


Published date: 
September 22, 2023
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