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Our Natural World: Seeing fox on Long Island

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The west end of Fire Island is prime territory for viewing hawks (see above column), but the eastern reaches of the island are among the better places here to see red fox. This shy predator can be spied behind the main dune line, especially east of the barrier island's communities. People have spotted them at Davis Park, but also in Quogue, Amagansett, Wainscott, North Haven, Shelter Island and other places. The adult fox weighs seven to 14 pounds, and its luxuriant coat is especially red during the fall, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. A fox's bush tail is white-tipped, and the animal holds it straight out behind when on patrol. The fox is a solitary hunter (unlike wolves with whom they are sometimes associated in popular lore) for mice, voles, rabbits and nesting birds, among other prey. Some experts say the fox can hear the squeal of a rodent from 100 feet away. It's also equipped to detect low-frequency sounds, such as a tunneling vole, or a burrowing rabbit.

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