Red fox

Safety - Don't Feed Wildlife!

Foxes or wildlife in general should not be fed intentionally by humans. The Department of Environment and Climate Change (ECC) is reminding residents and tourists that while it is always interesting to see NWT wildlife in their natural habitat, they should never be given food and it is an offense to do so under the NWT Wildlife Act Section 65 (1). Intentionally feeding wildlife can result in a fine of $253. 

Wildlife that are intentionally fed or given access to food lose their fear of humans, leading them to become a nuisance or danger to anyone they encounter, resulting in having to destroy the animal. Help Keep Wildlife Wild!

To report someone intentionally feeding wildlife, call the Report-A-Poacher hotline at: 1.866.762.2437

For more information contact your Local Renewable Resource Officer or Regional ECC Office:

  • North Slave Regional Office: (867)767-9238 ext. 53247
  • Fort Smith Regional Office: (867) 872-0400
  • Hay River Regional Office: (867) 875-7640
  • Deh Cho Regional Office: (867) 695-7450
  • Sahtu Regional Office: (867) 587-3500 or the 24hr Emergency Line (867) 587-2422
  • Inuvik Regional Office: (867) 678-0289

Rabies is the most common disease affecting foxes in the NWT. Encephalitis and distemper are also fatal diseases more prevalent during years with high numbers of foxes. Many foxes are infected with a variety of internal and external parasites.

What do red foxes look like?

The red fox is a member of the dog family. It has a pointed face and ears and a long, bushy tail. This small animal weighs between 3.0 to 7.0 kg and is about 100 cm long with its tail accounting for almost half this length.

Red foxes are shy, nervous animals, which are most active at night. They have acute hearing and a keen sense of smell. They run with a quick, airy gait, leaving paw prints in a line in the snow. 

Red foxes are larger than the Arctic fox and live in more southern ranges. However, the red fox is an adaptable animal and some have extended their range into areas where the Arctic fox is found.

Red fox is important to the fur industry because of its large numbers and wide distribution in the Northwest Territories (NWT).

The red fox is generally one of three colours:

  • Red is most common and occurs in 45 to 75 percent of the population. These foxes are reddish-brown with a white chest, abdomen and tip of the tail. They have black hairs on their legs and down their backs.
  • The cross fox is grey-brown in colour with black hairs across the shoulders, which form a "cross." This second phase makes up about 20 to 44 percent of the red fox population in Canada.
  • Silver foxes are black with a white tip of the tail and a variable amount of silver frosting on the guard hairs. The silver phase occurs in only 2 to 17 per cent of red foxes. All colour phases can occur in the same litter.  

Red Fox
Red Fox

Where are red foxes located?

Red foxes range across Canada as far north as some of the Arctic islands. Higher densities are located below the treeline of the NWT. They also occur sparsely in the southern tundra.

Normal home ranges vary between 5 and 35 km2. Foxes may undertake long migrations in search of food, especially in years of low prey density and high fox numbers. The wide distribution of red foxes indicates they are able to survive in a variety of habitats. They are most often found in semi-open country, such as natural clearings, river valleys, tundra and agricultural areas.

Red Fox distribution by ecoregions
Red Fox distribution by ecoregions