Have you ever heard a red fox scream? If not, take a moment to look it up, but beware, the sound will haunt your dreams. The territorial scream sounds like what I imagine a banshee must sound like, or the sound of a spirit trapped between this world and the great beyond, shrieking for its eternal rest.

Anyway, the reason I’ve been thinking of overwrought metaphors for fox noises is because every night, at around 10, the fox that lives next door starts screaming. Or, to be more accurate, one of the roughly six foxes in the neighborhood starts screaming. One of them is a mother fox with four or five kits – we’ve seen them playing in the field. It’s adorable. I guess if it’s the mother fox screaming at night I can understand, because if I had five babies I would be screaming, too. But I think it’s the male fox. We think we live in our house, but he thinks we live in his territory and he is warning us to stay away from his wife. I’ve tried yelling back that I’m not interested in Mrs. Fox, but it didn’t seem to have any effect.

Last night, when I took Janey out for her bedtime piddle, we heard the scream, closer than ever before. I looked down at her, expecting her to help protect me from the wild animals. Isn’t that why humans have been hanging out with dogs for 40,000 years? Protection from the other scary animals? But she just looked up at me with the exact same face I was making, expecting me to protect her from the scary animal noises. We replaced the porch light with one that is three times as bright right after that.

Reports from all over the world indicate that, because humans have been staying inside due to the coronavirus pandemic, wildlife is re-emerging into our territory. Reports from my yard confirm this to be true. As I mentioned in last week’s column, Janey managed to kill a porcupine a few weeks ago. I was walking her on a leash in our backyard, she was snuffling around in a bush (her favorite activity), when, in the absolute blink of an eye, and before I could react, she’d grabbed a porcupine by the neck and bam! That was all she wrote.

I was (and am) simultaneously proud and horrified. Fortunately the Hollis Animal Clinic is only a few minutes away and, being in Hollis, they’re pretty used to porcupine-related injuries. This wasn’t the first time our family has brought them a dog with a face full of quills, but I sure hope it is the last. Janey is fine now and I don’t think she has learned any lessons from her experience, because when she saw a different porcupine, she wouldn’t stop licking her chops. I, on the other hand, am a lot more jumpy around brush piles than I used to be.

However. All is not well. Just yesterday we spotted another porcupine right outside the back door. This porcupine was larger than the one Janey tangled with, and unafraid. I swear, it looked us dead in the eye as it climbed my mother’s rosebush and started eating the buds. It didn’t even blink when my sister banged two pans together to make a horrible clanging noise. It walked away only when my mom went outside, stomped her feet, and said – and this is a verbatim quote from New York Times Best-Selling Author Julia Spencer-Fleming – “Porcupine! Go away! There are humans here!” The porcupine did slink away after that, because when my mom tells you to do something, you better do it. But what I’m thinking is that the porcupine that Janey got was this big porcupine’s wife or daughter, and he might be the porcupine version of Liam Neeson and he’s come to seek vengeance upon us.

We also have a smug, fat groundhog that has made itself a nest in our overgrown raspberry bushes. He is the nemesis to my mother’s plans for a garden. We have a Havahart trap but none of us know how to use it (that was always Dad’s job). Sometimes I see it in the middle of the backyard, laughing at us. (At least, I think it’s laughing. I suppose it’s possible I’m projecting a little.) Currently our plan for the groundhog is “hope the foxes scare it off.”

The animal invasion isn’t all terrible. We have some cardinals nesting in the bush right outside the window at my mom’s desk. And just this morning, while walking the dog, I saw a black-capped chickadee on a branch less than a foot away! It’s nice to see nature walking (and flying) around without fear.

But if the bear that was spotted in Gorham makes its way to Buxton, we’re going to have a serious problem.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @mainemillennial


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