Gray foxes coordinate attack on turkeys

This is a remarkable bit of trail camera footage from Putnam County, Florida.

Here we have two gray foxes coordinating an attack on a flock of Osceola turkeys. They are engaging in behavior I’d expect more from wolves or coyotes.  One fox harries the birds, while the other sneaks around from behind.

Although the foxes don’t catch a turkey that day, they might sometimes succeed if they keep doing this behavior.

I’ve read old accounts of gray foxes working together to hunt rabbits, but I put them away as hearsay.

After seeing this footage, I am convinced they do sometimes engage in cooperative hunting.

Gray foxes, especially in Florida, aren’t that big, and a turkey is a fighting dinosaur of a chicken. My guess is they aren’t regularly preying on mature turkeys, but they do engage in this sort of behavior to test them in much the same way wolves test elk or caribou.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this footage, but it is pretty remarkable.

I’ve always admired the gray fox. It’s a truly unique American canid, for it has no Old World congeners.

They and turkeys have been interacting for millions of years in the Southeast and Southwest, a dance far more ancient than wolf and bison in Yellowstone. And certainly far more ancient than man versus beast on this continent.

And this drama happened in the third most populous state in the union, not in some far wilderness of the West. Indeed, just a stone’s throw from the first permanent European settlement in North America.

 

 

Natural History

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