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Wildlife

Behind the lens: An evening with foxes in South Anchorage

A fox leaps across a creek in South Anchorage on March 29. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

A friend told me about some foxes that were pretty tolerant of people in South Anchorage. One evening several days later, I decided to try to find them with vague directions as to where they hung out.

A group of photographers admire the fox. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

The easiest way to find them would be to look for the group of photographers gathered in the area — they are much bigger and easier to spot then the small red foxes.

A group of photographers make photos as a fox leaps over a creek. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

I found the photographers and right in front of them was a red fox sitting beside the creek. I made photographs of the fox and photographers with my long lens and then moved up to where the photographers were.

The foxes rest. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

For the next four or five hours, I stuck around making photos of the fox and another one that showed up for a while.

A fox leaps across a gap in the ice shelf. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

What all of the photographers waited for was when the fox jumped across the small stream, hoping that they could get it in focus and not clip off the tail.

Walking into the evening light. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

While the foxes in this area were active during the day, they are most active at night in the green spaces of Anchorage, according to wildlife biologist David Saalfield with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Unlike mega fauna such as bears and moose, the department does not track fox numbers.

Curled up for a rest. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

The fox moved along the edge of the creek, occasionally lying down in the sunshine in full view and sometimes disappearing into the woods. That precipitated the activity that takes up the vast majority of time for a wildlife photographer: standing around and waiting.

Just hanging out. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

The one fox that presented the most was a female, according to some of the photographers present. She was pretty cooperative, not spending a great deal of time resting or hunting unseen.

This fox was ready for its closeup. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

The other two days I visited the area were not as eventful. The fox was out of sight probably 90 percent of the time.

Looking straight into the lens. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

Fish and Game's red fox fact sheet states that their diet includes small mammals, birds and bird eggs, vegetation and carrion. They breed in February and March and give birth to one to 10 pups after 51 to 54 days.

Along the bike path. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

Hikers and bikers passed by on the bike trail. Some people were walking dogs, which for the most part ignored the fox, and the fox returned the favor.

Quenching its thirst with water from the creek. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

This was a perfect situation for a wildlife photographer, having animals that pretty much ignore you and come close enough to photograph (with beautiful soft evening light coming from the right direction), which are active and, of course, have beautiful coats.

Sniffing the air. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)
Coming out of the brush. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)
Fresh tracks. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)
This fox was startled — and started to bolt. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

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