As Bob and I were about to leave Montreal’s Botanical Gardens, after a day-long tour of the wonderful Mosaicultures 2013 on exhibit, we came upon a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) sniffing around the various plants in one specialized garden. What a surprise to find this wild creature quite at home in urban Montreal.
Montreal’s Botanical Gardens occupies 75 hectares in the heart of Montreal, and as we walked in among the over 30 different types of gardens, we saw an endless variety of plants and flowers. In fact, over 22,000 different types of plants can be found on the grounds.
The day we visited, Bob and I saw various wild beasts, rustic animals made of mud, sticks and dried grass such as The Boars of Sally Island,
and woodland creatures made of boreal lichen and mosses like this wolf that is howling at the moon,
but the last thing we expected to have cross our path in the perfectly manicured and refined space was a fluffy red fox. Its sheer existence at the Montreal Botanical Gardens substantiates the conviction espoused by organizers of this year’s mosaiculture competition in one of their underlying themes, Nature in the Urban Environment. The organizers could not have asked for a more perfect example of the symbiosis between Man and Nature.
Much like us, the fox seemed to be enjoying the scents of the assorted plantings in the garden at hand.
The cunning little red fox thoroughly surveyed its surroundings but paid little attention to us.
All that hard work seemed to make him a little tired…
but in speaking with one of the gardeners, we learned that this red fox is probably more worn out from having raised a recent litter of six kits with its mate. The two are now on their own again as the litter was removed from the Garden and relocated to an appropriate habitat elsewhere once the young were old enough to be separated from the adult pair.
Although the foxes pose no problem within the Botanical Gardens, the property is just not large enough to adequately support the lives of 8 foxes. Add to that the fact that the adult pair is quite comfortable around people. Extrapolate that behaviour, and you could end up with 8 foxes getting up too close and personal with the millions of people who visit the Garden each year.
Red Foxes are particularly adept at thriving in an urban environment and scavenge successfully on anything that humans eat, but at the Montreal Botanical Gardens, there was next to zero litter, so I expect this red fox resorted to a more normal diet of rodents, rabbits, birds and any other small creature, including frogs.
It is thought that urban foxes are evolving into a different species from their country cousins because of the availability of man-made food, different survival skills that come with living in a city, and a lack of fear of humans.
Whatever the case may be, this Red Fox gave up on its search for a free lunch and headed off into the forested habitat within the Garden. I’m sure it will delight more visitors when next it creeps out from under the bushes along the Garden trails.
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