In the animal world, the relationship between predator and prey is a delicate dance. In this article we will discuss on the topic of The Fox and the Wolf: An Unlikely Duo. It is a dynamic that can alter with or without warning, so both parties need to be on their toes at all times. During a camping trip in 2013, residents of Queens, New York were treated to an incredible display of this natural phenomenon when a fox attacked a deer in broad daylight. After chasing the deer into an open field within Forest Park, the fox leaped onto its back and latched on tight. Undeterred by his new adversary’s antlers, the fox continued its attack until they collapsed from exhaustion. The exhausted animals laid side-by-side as onlookers took pictures and videos of this rare encounter.
This stellar incident was not the only example in the recent history of a fox attacking or preying upon a deer. This past February, an eerily similar-looking incident occurred in Middle Island, New York when another fearless red fox attacked one of the very same white-tailed deer within Forest Park. While this attack was not as well documented as the 2013 en counter, it too appears to have been quite savage.
So what is behind these violent encounters? Are they purely for sport, or are there deeper underlying factors at play? We explore several possible theories below
Prey Camouflage Theory
One common theme that occurs when studying attacks on prey by predators is that if it bleeds, it leads. By that logic, this theory would suggest that perhaps either one (if not both) of these animals were wounded. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time an animal, or in this case, a fox, attacked another because it spotted weakness and opted to take advantage. This theory can be further supported by the fact that both incidents occurred within Forest Park, where hunting is illegal and thus prey camouflage becomes even more important. While hunting has been identified as one possible cause for declines in wildlife populations across the country, New York state parks such as Forest Park enforce strict anti-hunting policies: does this mean we will see more stories like these rather than fewer? Only time will tell…
Territory Conflict Theory
If we pay close attention to nature shows we know that territorial disputes do happen between predator and prey species. The most commonly cited example of this is the lion’s struggle with hyenas for control of their shared homeland in Africa, but other less common examples such as foxes vs squirrels and egrets vs herons can also be found. In all documented cases thus far, it appears that territory conflict only occurs when both parties are smaller than one another: a big bad wolf would have no qualms wresting land from a little piggy. Given that white-tailed deer are the largest type of deer living in New York at an average weight of 200lbs and a size comparable to red foxes (45 lbs), this theory would appear to hold water…
Did these foxes attack these innocent deer purely out of malice? We may never know. All we can do is keep our eyes peeled for any more animal oddities that might unfold in the future.
Emotional Regression Theory
Foxes are known for their cunning and mischievous nature, with legends emerging from around the globe depicting them as tricksters who use dishonesty to steal food from unsuspecting passersby. It is possible that perhaps these particular red foxes are feeling particularly feisty, leading to attacks on larger prey who they sense are weaker or smaller than themselves. Whatever the reason these two separate foxes opted to attack white-tailed deer, this information will certainly help scientists across the world better understand interspecies relationships when predators choose to prey upon their own.
The smell of Blood Theory
The deer could simply have smelled the red fox’s blood after it was injured in a fight within its territory, leading to an attack on an animal that would be completely unheard of under normal circumstances. While this theory is plausible, it still doesn’t explain why both deer and fox opted to engage in conflict rather than flee. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere deeper…
Mirror Self-Recognition Perception (MSRRP) Theory
Perhaps this is all just one big misunderstanding! According to research scientists at Oxford University, mirror self-recognition perception (MSRRP) is the ability for an animal to recognize itself reflected in a mirror or other reflective surface. This ability has been observed, scientifically, in only a few species of animals including chimps, orangutans, dolphins, and elephants. It’s possible that these two creatures just happened to stop by for a quick look at themselves in the mirror after this stressful situation occurred. Maybe then they’ll realize that not only do deer and foxes typically receive exceptionally poor ratings on their selfie game but that it is simply not cool to prey upon one another.
Conclusion: The Fox and the Wolf are most likely not friends
While all of these theories hold water, it remains very possible that this was a simple case of predation by an animal who saw the deer as prey. There is no evidence to suggest that foxes have formed bonds or friendships with other animals aside from wolves (as can be seen in Little Red Riding Hood) so it would seem unlikely that red foxes would intentionally confront prey larger than themselves. It’s more than likely that some unknown variable forced these two creatures together for this battle, resulting in the untimely death of one poor white-tailed deer. Only time will tell if we see any further conflicts between predator and prey species within New York state parks. Until then, be sure to get your selfies in before the animals do!
Also, read our article on Some facts about Starfish.