Ocean City, New Jersey restaurant owner Jim Brown has been seeing them every day.
“They’re jumping up. They’re walking around your feet,” Brown said. “Bicycles are dodging them.”
They are young red foxes. The wild animals have been making their way onto the boardwalk and mingling with the crowds lined up outside his popular restaurant in city’s North End.
“They are wild animals and it does concern me. Eventually, something is going to happen,” Brown said.
Officials believe the fox pups, born just a couple months ago and part of a growing fox population on this barrier island, are coming from a nearby den and they’ve gotten used to people giving them handouts.
“I actually thought it was a cat at first,” said Laura Holleran of State College, Pennsylvania.
Experts say they know of five active fox dens in Ocean City but state guidelines forbid them from moving the animals off the island.
“We can relocate them in Ocean City,” said Bill Hollingsworth from the Humane Society of Ocean City. “So we would put them in an area that doesn’t have an active den already and there’s no population around.”
“We really need the people to stop feeding them. We want them to get back into the wild,” he added.
Officials tell NBC10 there have been no reports of aggressive or rabid foxes in ocean city in years. And people here want to keep it that way.