【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (32) The Ezo red fox: an encounter with the unknown

June 7
An Ezo red fox cub peers out from between the butterbur, which has begun to grow

Amid the mountains in the town of Shiranuka in eastern Hokkaido, as the greenery becomes denser and the butterbur stems grow higher day by day, I encounter an Ezo red fox cub that was born this spring.

 The fox’s lair seems to have been made in a drainage ditch created alongside a forest road; as I approach, hide and move away, the fox appears and looks my way. It’s about 20 cm long. Confronted with the first human it has seen, it seems to be attempting to ascertain whether I’m a friend or a foe. I move away so as not to surprise the cute, puppy-like fox, pointing the telescopic lens of my camera in its direction.

 Ezo red foxes usually give birth to between 3 and 6 cubs. They are born in April and leave the lair approximately one month later. The cubs are weaned sometime between June and July and eat food provided by their parents. The fox cubs play close to the lair, but the range of their behavior increases as they grow, occasionally resulting in them being involved in road accidents.

 From autumn through winter the cubs become independent from their parents and begin to live separately.
(Words and photo: Shigeru Tadanobu)


Shiranuka Town