About last week I was heading off campus after dark with a few friends. Just as we were about to turn onto French Road, I saw a small figure crossing the road. The car screeched to a halt as I slammed my foot on the brakes, jerking my friends and I forward into our seats. As they all began to collect themselves, I saw a pair of glowing eyes stare at me, blink, and then move away.
Nazareth students and staff have been abuzz with the news of a new interloper around campus. Many have caught a glimpse of a red fox, either stalking a wayward squirrel or wandering between buildings. The fox has quickly become a local social media phenomenon, as students eagerly share their sightings of him on Instagram and Snapchat stories. The creature has especially become a topic of conversation due to its unusual demeanor. He frequently traipses about the campus in broad daylight, maintaining a relatively short distance from passerby, which has started to raise eyebrows about the safety of having a wild animal loose around the college. I’ve personally been given warnings concerning the possibility of rabies, or worse.
So, naturally, when I noticed it wandering outside of GAC the following day, I decided to follow it. I’ve always had an interest in foxes, and I wasn’t going to let the threat of rabies make me pass up the opportunity to see one up close. It briskly walked up and across the granite steps, then made its across the street towards the woods. As it moved along, I saw several bewildered students stare, phones in hand, their eyes shining with surprise and wonder. This little creature’s travels were, and continue to be, a welcome change of pace to the day-to-day workload of college life.
The fox and I got a little deeper into the woods, before I found a large hill I could stand on, and watch him do his business. He pounced at a squirrel here and there, but eventually turned back and looked directly at me. I stood completely still as he walked up my hill, never breaking eye contact. At this point, I was getting slightly nervous, but I was also getting some pretty good pictures on my phone, so I didn’t want to interrupt him. Luckily, my fears were unfounded. He was close, but maintained a safe distance, and busied himself with sniffing around and rolling in the dirt. He seemed very playful, and didn’t mind being filmed at all – in fact, I think he might have enjoyed the attention.
Since then, Campus Safety sent out an email regarding the little guy, asking students and faculty not to feed him or back him into a corner. With the massive population of squirrels on campus, I think he’s got that first issue covered; just the other day, I watched him strut past my window with one in between his jaws. He doesn’t seem like he’ll be a threat to us, though. His fur is well-maintained and unmatted, and he is continuing to give humans a fairly wide berth. Instead, he may just be the newest, furriest member of the Nazareth community.