The red fox family that occasionally visits my backyard has moved on apparently, but a friend reported a fox family with three kits in her Minneapolis neighborhood, so I went over to investigate.
Red Foxes are seen more frequently in urban environments these days, as are a variety of other predators — e.g., Great horned Owls, coyotes, and Sharp-shinned Hawks (that specialize on birds coming to feeders). The urban environment offers a plethora of hiding places, a variety of freshly discarded garbage (and foxes are quite omnivorous), and a human population that usually tolerates their presence, or perhaps even cultivates it. Even the presence of dogs fails to drive foxes away, but they are definitely wary of their canine relatives.
Unlike many species, red foxes can survive quite nicely in the fragmented habitat of the urban ecosystem, where parks and woods are interspersed with houses. Even without the greater acreage of the local park, foxes find plenty of squirrels, mice, and rabbits in our backyards, and do us a service by reducing the numbers of those wildflower-consuming herbivores. In fact, because of their flexible diet and adaptable hunting behavior, foxes are one of the best rodent population controls we have in the urban environment, and they don’t kill small songbirds like house cats do.
These kits (I think there three of them in this family) were probably born in this or another nearby den in March or early April. They mature quickly, are ready to hunt with their parents by mid-May, and will stay with the family unit until they reach reproductive readiness this winter.