UW-Whitewater police trying to rid campus of wild visitor

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Satff | September 6, 2013

WHITEWATER — Officials at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater are hoping to discourage a persistent hanger-on around campus to get up on its feet—all four of them—and just go back home.

According to a news release on the school's website, for the past six months, staff and students have spotted a fox roaming around campus.

Wildlife in Whitewater isn't unusual, but the fox is starting to feel right at home, and that could be a problem, university staff said.

“We're concerned the fox is so comfortable here that it will eventually start approaching people or wander into a building,” said Jeff Arnold, vice chancellor for administrative affairs, in the release.

The fear is that the fox could turn aggressive and bite someone, although that hasn't been a problem at present.

“Foxes are incredibly adaptable carnivores,” said Joshua Kapafer, assistant professor of biology. “They love places like Whitewater because of the natural areas nearby and the easy access to food. There have been instances where foxes acclimate to people and become dependent on them. When that happens, severe problems arise.”

For now, officials are trying to remove the fox's easy food sources, like food or garbage lying on outdoor tables and benches.

After unsuccessfully trying to capture the fox in live traps, campus police are trying to discourage the animal by throwing rocks at the fox, making loud noises, or spraying it with a hose. They say if that doesn't work, they'll take other steps.

They're also reminding people to remember the fox is a wild animal, not a pet.

“Don't feed it. Don't interact with it in any way,” said Matthew Kiederlen, UW-Whitewater police chief. “Don't stop and take pictures with your cellphone. Just walk away.”

Anyone who sees the fox is instructed to call the campus non-emergency police line at (262) 472-4660 to report the animal's whereabouts.

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