Fox sightings on Charleston peninsula not that rare
Coming face-to-face with wildlife on the Charleston peninsula usually means encountering birds or squirrels, maybe even a raccoon or possum.
But a more exotic wild animal — the fox — still inhabits the peninsula, and on rare occasions is seen in broad daylight, according to a wildlife expert.
Monday, apparently, was one of those rare occasions.
At least three fox sightings took place during the day downtown. Two people told Charleston police they saw a fox, and a Post and Courier reporter came within feet of what appeared to be a desperately dashing fox while driving on Calhoun Street.
Police spokesman Charles Francis said reports of foxes came to police from Brittlebank Park and from the hospitals area. Traps have been set to catch the fox, he said.
The reporter was driving eastbound on Calhoun Street, near Courtenay Drive, when what must have been the third fox sighting was made. At about 11:50 a.m., a small, gray figure zipped by on the sidewalk. The short-legged, scruffy, long-nosed dog-like creature entered the traffic lane, paused due to oncoming traffic in the other lane, and then reversed its course.
The animal froze momentarily in front of the car, allowing a clear view of itself, then raced back to the sidewalk and crossed Calhoun Street several cars back.
Sam Chappelaer, a wildlife regional coordinator for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, said foxes still inhabit peninsular marshes. While they most often seek food at night, they will charge “confused and disoriented” into traffic when rousted out of their habitats.
Foxes sometimes raid trash cans and dumpsters for food. At this time of year, mother foxes need extra nutrition and, “we’ll see them out in the daytime looking for food to feed their pups,” Chappelaer said.
A fox that is sick, such as with rabies, when out in the daylight would be more lethargic, and not afraid of people or traffic, Chappelaer said.
A DNR web page states the gray fox is common in South Carolina. “Seldom seen except at night, the gray fox stays within its home range, where it concentrates its activities according to food sources in abundance. The gray fox is an opportunistic omnivore, consuming fruit and berries, corn, acorns, bird eggs, and insects, as well as field mice and rabbits.”