Colter Bay fox euthanized after human food habituation

JACKSON, Wyo. — A fox was euthanized Monday at Colter Bay due to human food habituation, according to Denise Germann, the spokesperson for Grand Teton National Park (GNTP).

The Jackson Hole News&Guide reported that the fox was caught in a box trap on Monday. The fox, known as 15M had a tracking collar on since 2018, meaning it was a research animal.

The park service says that feeding wildlife is actually a form of animal cruelty. Animals that are fed by humans learn to frequent roadsides and parking lots, dramatically increasing their chances of being run over by a careless motorist.

According to the NPS webpage, most animals have very specific natural diets and therefore specific kinds of digestive bacteria. Being fed human food causes the wrong type of bacteria to become dominant in their stomachs. Soon these animals are no longer able to digest their natural foods, and they end up starving to death with stomachs full of what they should have been eating all along.

The News&Guide also said that reports were made of a professional photographer, David Yarrow, feeding foxes in the Colter Bay area of the park the week prior.

A Jackson resident and photographer told Buckrail that she saw the photographer and his crew feeding and enticing foxes in Colter Bay earlier last week.

“I was photographing a fox while a group of men modeled and photographed a stylized shoot with fur and guns about 20 feet away from me. One man circled the area feeding the fox occasionally. After this, the men started photographing two foxes,” photographer Tiffany Taxis said of the incident. “The photographer instructed one of the men to use the plastic bag to entice the foxes to come closer. The foxes came within a foot of the photographer and eagerly waited for food. Then one of the men stated, ‘you better do what I tell you or I’ll take out my gun and shoot you.’ I simply couldn’t imagine how a person could speak to an innocent animal like that. I then discreetly took photographs of the men.”

“The photographer instructed one of the men to use the plastic bag to entice the foxes to come closer. The foxes came within a foot of the photographer and eagerly waited for food,” Photographer Tiffany Taxis said. “I then discreetly took photographs of the men. I am sure you know the implications of feeding a wild animal but as a photographer myself, my heart doesn’t sit right knowing a photographer endangered the life of an animal for a photograph.” Photo: Tiffany Taxis

Taxis later said that she is certain the man she saw in the park was Yarrow.

“I have collected extensive evidence from Yarrow’s Instagram and Facebook profiles, as well as the men he was with, that definitively prove it was him,” said Taxis. “I also reported the incident to the National Park and filed a witness report.”

The park service is still uncertain whether the fox that was euthanized is one of the same foxes from the alleged feeding incident with Yarrow last week.

“The [euthanized] fox was food conditioned and habituated,” Germann said. “But I do not know if that fox was involved in that incident or not.”

The investigation of reports that Yarrow and his crew were feeding foxes is still ongoing.

Regardless of who is feeding or enticing wildlife, not only is it very illegal, but it is never a good idea to habituate wild animals for the safety of both them and humans.

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