Steamboat Springs Colorado Division of Wildlife officials estimate there are at least 60 well-fed red foxes living in and around the Steamboat Springs city limits.
"They're just every place," the DOW's Mike Middleton said.
In fact, the number of foxes in the city has reached an unhealthy level.
The population growth can be attributed in large part to the fact the animals have become dependent on humans for food. And because there is plenty of human food to be found, the population has grown past the density level normally seen in the wild.
"That invites nuisance and disease," Middleton said.
Besides rummaging through trash for leftovers, foxes often eat small domestic animals, especially cats.
"That's one of the consequences," Middleton said. "People do lose cats. Especially the ones that don't have a fear of other animals."
Though some people consider the animals a pleasure to watch, others aren't so fond of the furry red foxes found around here. Take, for example, the residents of a Steamboat house under which a fox family made its den. Soon, the entire house smelled like fox urine.
The DOW doesn't deal with nuisance foxes, so it's up to each property owner to take care of a problematic animal.
"After awhile, it would be all that we'd be doing," said Middleton, explaining why the DOW doesn't come to the rescue of people fed up with foxes.
Most nuisance foxes are trapped alive and then destroyed. Earlier this year, one property owner in Steamboat Springs trapped 11 foxes, adults and kits, and did away with the animals, Middleton said.
"With the number of foxes we have in town, it was going to happen sooner or later," he added.
Instead of killing a family of foxes, a property owner can get a permit to move the animals, but he or she would then have to handle the job themselves. Furthermore, if the foxes have become dependent on human food, they won't survive in the wild after they're transplanted.
To keep the fox population in the city from growing any larger, their access to human food needs to be limited, DOW officials say. That means keeping tight lids on garbage containers and never feeding the animals.
"It's not as bad as having a bear, but there are some honey holes that adult pairs begin to depend on," Middleton said.
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