Wildlife abounds in Hickory Farms, and animals are sure to frequent our property, especially if one borders on our Common Areas. The HFCA's responsibilities, including those delegated to the Board of Directors, do not include capturing wild animals; it’s actually against the law. Foxes are little to no danger to humans, and help control the rodent population. A rabid animal such as a fox or raccoon is another story of course, and if you see any animal you suspect of being rabid, call the Fairfax County Police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131. For more information, see www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/resources/nrp_backyardwildlife.htm.
To help keep wildlife away from your home, the following ideas from the Fairfax County Health Department may be helpful:
- Remove attractants from the vicinity of your house. Attractants include garbage and pet food left out at night. Place trash cans out the morning of pickup instead of the night before to deter animals.
- Bird feeders where the ground is littered with seeds and shells are a seven-course meal for rats!
- Eliminate convenient denning sites such as wood and rock piles, elevated sheds, openings under concrete slabs and porches, and access to crawl spaces under houses.
- Before blocking any denning site, be sure the animal is gone. The goal is to block the opening after the animal has left, not trap the animal.
Do not approach these animals. Let them move away from you and, if you notice abnormal behavior, please contact the local animal control authorities at 703-830-3310. Animal control authorities will remove dangerous animals. For mere pests, call a local pest control company.
Although foxes normally hunt at night, they will come out during the day to sun themselves and look for food. You may frequently see foxes in the early morning hours on their way back to their den after hunting at night.
Over the years foxes, have been shifting their hunting habits so as not to compete with the growing coyote population. Coyotes will attack smaller foxes.
A fox that has little or no hair probably has mange mites. Normally these foxes are very thin, will have scabs or open sores, and scratch a lot. These foxes are even more likely to be seen out during the day as they are no longer able to hunt and do not have enough body fat to keep warm. They are frequently seen curled up in yards and our Common Areas sunning themselves. They will also come out during the day to look for alternate food sources as the odor of their skin and their weak condition leave them unable to hunt or compete with healthy wildlife.
Mangy foxes are more of a nuisance than a threat. They are not prone to attack and will normally scamper off if disturbed. Clapping your hands or stomping your feet is usually enough to get them to move along. If the fox does not leave, or is unable to leave, contact Animal Control at 703-830-1100. Mange is a treatable disease when Animal Control Officers are aware of feeding areas and are able to place medication. Once cured, these foxes will move out into areas further away from human homes. Most often these animals either starve or freeze to death before they can be captured or treated.
Coyotes are now common in Fairfax County and have been seen in Hickory Farms in the Rabbit Run area (Rabbit Run crosses Cotton Farm Road, between where it intersect with Harvester Farm and Farm House. These animals will usually scurry away as you approach and are more afraid of you than you are of them. They hunt small animals such as mice, rats, small deer, squirrels, foxes, rabbits, small dogs and cats. Our eastern coyotes are larger than their western brethren; eastern coyotes can weigh 30-50 pounds and be up to five feet in length.
Coyotes are only a danger to humans in the rare cases where one is rabid or if they are cornered or threatened. Coyotes do most of their hunting at night. Cats and small pets should be kept indoors, especially at night. Dogs should not be left outdoors unattended.
Coyotes are very elusive and are difficult to trap humanely or safely. Even if they could be safely captured and removed, as long as the environmental conditions exist to support their survival in the area, others will quickly move in behind any that are removed.
You will see lots of wildlife in the vicinity of Hickory Farms, and you should act no differently if you see a coyote than if you see a squirrel, fox, or raccoon. However, if you see a coyote that is acting sick or aggressive, contact Animal Control at 703-830-1100.
Coyotes are generally non-confrontational and can easily be scared off by yelling or making other loud noises.
Wild Animals and Rabies
The rabies virus is transmitted through animal bites or other contact with a rabid animal's saliva through a break in the skin or through mucous membrane. Animals that are most likely to carry rabies are skunks, cats, bats, raccoons and foxes. If you see a wild animal that appears sick or injured or you think it may have rabies, please call Animal Control at 703-830-3310. An Animal Control Officer will come to the area and attempt to capture the animal and most likely euthanize it. Shortly thereafter, the animal will be tested for the rabies virus. The results of this test are public information, so you can follow up with the officer to determine if the animal tested positive for the rabies virus.
If your pet was possibly exposed to the virus and is current on his/her immunizations, your animal will need to receive a booster shot and you will have to keep it quarantined for 90 days. If your pet is not current with the vaccine, it will be quarantined for a period of six months.
In order to help prevent your pet from contracting the rabies virus, have your pets sleep indoors, walk your pets on a leash, and feed them inside. In addition, be sure to have your pet inoculated against rabies and keep the immunizations up to date.
Last Update: April 29, 2020
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