Fox invasion creates backyard battlefield, and a lesson in motherhood

This column was originally published as part of my “From Where I Sit” series at in Towson Times.

She wouldn’t blink. I waved my arms. Clapped my hands. I even yelled at the intruder. But she just sat there, coldly returning my stare.

I had zoomed into the kitchen for morning coffee when I discovered the unwanted visitor. Months ago, I had splurged for remote controlled blinds for my sliding glass doors since they were difficult to reach from my wheelchair. As the blinds slowly ascended, I spied the furry paws.

At first, I thought our dog had escaped and was waiting to come inside. But then the blinds revealed a fluffy red tail — and those unblinking eyes.

It wasn’t the first time I’d encountered this fox. In early spring, I found a huge hole in the middle of the lawn. At the time, I thought our groundhogs had put on a few pounds, given the hole’s size. Then I saw this beautiful fox peeking out from my pink azalea bed. When she saw me, she darted into the shrubs, too quickly for me to snap a photo.

The next time I saw her, six black fuzzy pups romped near her, jumping and playing more like cats than dogs. She proudly perched by the foxhole as her offspring played nearby. My camera and presence no longer bothered her as I began to chronicle her adventures.

Although I live minutes from the beltway, this year’s customary rabbits, groundhogs and deer were joined not only by the fox family but also by a flock of turkeys. At one point, I feared a National Geographic experience when the turkeys wandered near the foxhole. But there was peace in the animal kingdom, at least for a while.

As the pups grew, Mama Fox appeared more often. Daily, she stood in the center of my lawn with her head erect and tail extended while her pups gathered underneath to nurse. She practically posed for my pictures, as if she enjoyed the attention.

My kids and friends were amused by their antics.

Inky, my cat, was not.

One night, a horrible commotion awakened me. When I reached the doorway, the hissing and shrieking had stopped. Inky was safe, but my deck was littered with splattered saliva and fur bits.

The next morning’s rising blinds revealed that haunting stare. Something about parenthood had given that gal some gall. It was fine for her to play in the depths of my backyard, but to come after my cat, on my deck, close to my family … that was another matter entirely.

It’s amazing what encroachment does to civility. Suddenly, my son’s Airsoft gun became more than a left-over hobby cluttering his room. It was my opportunity to restore order to my yard. I didn’t want to harm the fox, only scare her back where she belonged.

With the toy gun in my lap, I parked my wheelchair, ready to intimidate. But the sly Mama Fox invaded only when I was unarmed.

So I called in for reinforcements.

Friends and family helped mount a defense. We discovered which human scents, sounds and other deterrents repelled animals, and then created a trespassing border.

Meanwhile, Inky perfected her ferocious cat-arch and hiss combo — and spent more time indoors.

Now the pups are gone, but Mama Fox is still around — back at the edge of my azalea bed. And peace reigns in my animal kingdom once again.