As Owens Brown turned onto Stackyard Road Wednesday morning, he noticed eight tiny eyes staring at him from a culvert.
After looking closer, the Wheeling resident discovered four fox pups have made the stone culvert their new home. He said they were not particularly startled by traffic on the adjacent Glenwood Road - or by those stopping to take a closer look.
"There were four little fox cubs out in the sun in the wide open," he said. "They had no fear of anything."
Photo by J.W. Johnson Jr.
A fox pup peaks out from a culvert on Stackyard Road on Wednesday evening.
Brown said although he has seen an older fox that could be the mother or father of the pups, he has not seen that fox with them at any point.
He said he grew concerned that one of the cubs could be hit by a vehicle, or become aggressive toward a passerby looking to get a closer view.
Brown said he spent Wednesday contacting various public and private entities in an effort to get the animals moved to safety. However, only one private company was interested and equipped to take the foxes, but it could only do so if they were on Brown's property - and for a fee.
As of Wednesday evening, the cubs were still in the culvert, where one of the more adventurous siblings poked his head out and stared at passing traffic. The remaining three pups burrowed into the culvert.
Despite their friendly appearance, Scott Shalaway, a Cameron resident and wildlife biologist, said onlookers should maintain their distance.
"The general policy is hands off," he said. "You can't take wildlife in as a pet, and they may look cute and friendly, but they can turn at any time."
Additionally, Shalaway said though the mother of the cubs has not been spotted, she may be lurking in the nearby woods keeping an eye on them.
In any event, Brown said he hopes someone will step in and make sure the cubs are given a new, safe home.
"I don't want to see them get hurt or for someone to harm them," he said.