LINCOLN, Maine — Roger Stevens Jr. has had to go 50 miles into the woods to photograph wildlife, but he had never gone to Perry Street in search of subjects.
That changed for the 56-year-old professional wildlife photographer this week thanks to Lincoln resident Kim Burleigh, who on April 19 noticed five young foxes living with their mother and father under a shed in the Perryville section of Lincoln.
“She and her daughter have been watching them for awhile. She saw them out playing, which is rare,” Stevens said. “Like any babies, they only play for a minute. I hit them twice in two days and I was really lucky. The wind really throws them off, but a real sunny, warm day will draw them out.”
“I’ve just been stalking the little buggers since I noticed them out of my best friend’s back window,” Burleigh said Friday. “They are just so precious.”
Burleigh was visiting her friend Chelsea McCafferty on April 19 and standing with her on McCafferty’s back deck when she noticed the family, which lives under a neighbor’s shed.
“I asked if she was aware that there was a huge fox behind her house and then we noticed all the kits hopping around and playing,” Burleigh said.
A Lincoln resident, Stevens has staked out the shed with a long lens for several days this week and posted several pictures to his Facebook page. He said the foxes’ mother keeps a pretty sharp eye on her offspring, which are occasionally visited by their father.
“This is the second year that they have denned under these people’s shed. It’s not really that uncommon. They become so habituated to people that they find places close to them,” Stevens said. “It is quite unusual in that it is between two streets.”
The fox cubs are only somewhat wary of people and hide under the shed whenever visitors come too close, said Stevens, who owns Maine Focus Photography and has a website at mainefocusphotography.biz.
“It is to my advantage because they aren’t too afraid of people. It is good for me. If you want to see them you have to sit over there with a good book,” Stevens said.
The American Society of Mammalogists lists the red fox as a species common to Maine and the U.S. everywhere except the southwestern U.S. Known for having a white-tipped tail, the red fox helps keep down the rodent population.
The foxes will likely move once the weather warms and the kits grow large enough, Stevens said. Foxes are not an unusual sight in that neighborhood, which is close to a stream that feeds Mattanawcook Lake and the large Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC property. Both are good sources of water and food for foxes.
“The whole family is really cool,” Stevens added. “It’s a backyard photographic adventure, is what it is.”