For The Benefit Of Mr. Fox

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The Village of Stewart Manor continues to host its newest and furriest resident, a wild red fox that was first spotted back in November. The Village Board of Trustees brought in Frank Vincenti, director of the Wild Dog Foundation, to speak at its January meeting in order to educate other residents about how best to get along with their new neighbor.

The Wild Dog Foundation is a Mineola-based not-for-profit that offers free public education on such wild animals to promote safety while coexisting with the animals.

Vincenti stressed throughout his talk that the fox is mostly harmless, posing “very little threat to the public,” and that as long as it’s left alone it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on the residents’ daily lives.

This fox appears to be moving between Stewart Manor and Franklin Square, possible striking out into new territory to locate a female before mating season this January. According to Vincenti, the fox is most likely using the railroad tracks as a means of traveling between the neighborhoods.

There is no need to have the animal removed from the village, in fact it may decide to leave on its own if it feels it’s not compatible with the area, Vincenti said.

Resident Valerie Mazilli-Brown was concerned about the safety of her outdoor cat Jamie. While out for a walk with her husband recently she happened upon the fox and called village hall in disbelief to report the sighting.

“It was just shocking to me,” she explained. She was not pleased to learn that the board had been aware of the animal for months. “I was disappointed that I wasn’t the first in the village to know about Mr. Fox,” she said.  

But Vincenti did his best to assuage her fears, explaining that cats can actually intimidate foxes, who he likened to the cats of the canine family. One precaution he did recommend taking was to limit the amount of food left outdoors for pets and animals.

The fox in question is not likely to grow to larger than eight or 10 pounds, and could be using a quiet space under a nearby porch for a den.

According to Vincenti, it’s actually beneficial to both humans and the fox to shoo it away and not attempt to feed it.

“Keep wildlife wild,” he urged. “Feeding it could condition the animal to start approaching humans, which could then pose a problem.”

As of now it’s expected to mostly be eating rats and mice, animals that could serve as vectors for Lyme’s disease. In that sense, Vincenti points out that the animal could be an asset to the village.

Although not originally native to Long Island, there is a sizable fox and wild dog population out in Suffolk County that appears to be migrating west toward Queens. Deer and skunks may also be making a comeback on Long Island, not just foxes.  

After Vincenti’s presentation, the board moved into its normally scheduled meeting. Mayor Gerard Tangredi announced that beginning this New Year, the village’s sanitation department will no longer be able to pick up electronic devices curbside in compliance with a state law.

Devices such as televisions, computers, printers, DVD players and more must now be handled like other forms of e-waste and be disposed of at special events sponsored by the Town of Hempstead such as STOP. The next such recycling event will be held March 14 in Levittown. Some retailers such as Staples will also accept the devices for recycling, but residents must bring them there themselves.

The change in pickup policy stems from the 2010 Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, a New York state law that has been rolled out in phases, with the first changes being felt back in 2011 and the final measure being the ban on curbside pickups in 2015.

The law’s purpose is to cut down on e-waste being deposited in the environment, which the EPA cites as a growing concern. The phase-in of the bill was designed to give manufacturers time to develop a system by which they could accept and recycle the discarded devices from consumers. Some companies also have mail-back programs wherein old electronics can be remotely sent in for recycling.

Cell phones are not included in this legislation though they should be properly recycled.

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