Rare ‘silver fox’ spotted in NC, officials close nearby playground

North Carolina news

LENOIR, N.C. (WBTV) – The playground area at the Martin Luther King Center in Lenoir is off-limits to everyone after a fox was found living just feet away. And it’s not just any fox – it’s a rare silver fox.

It’s something even the wildlife officers say they’ve never seen, and something they won’t be moving.

“I’ve never seen it, never,” said Captain Richard Tucker, who has been a Wildlife Resource Officer in North Carolina for 25 years.

Jose Tilly was the first person to spot the fox Wednesday morning under the center’s shelter.

After it moved slowly into the woods, just feet from the playground equipment, it let WBTV’s cameras get fairly close.

Jose, on the other hand, would have none of that.

“I stayed back, didn’t want to be around it,” he said.

There was originally fear the fox may be rabid. So, Center Director Lester Whittington wanted something done.

“I wish they would remove it, but I’m not an expert,” Whittington said.

The people who are experts say they don’t think the fox is sick at all.

“Seems to be pretty healthy,” one official said. “And maybe has set up a den in the woods. Probably has babies there, trying to protect them like we would.”

Just how this fox came to be here is a mystery, officials say. It’s actually in the Red Fox family, but with a twist.

Officials say it’s a similar situation as a white deer, which have been spotted here and there in the Carolinas. Like the white deer, a recessive gene in the red fox caused it to be silver.

But unlike the white deer, the silver fox is so rare it’s rarely seen south of Canada.

While officials with the center want it removed, wildlife officers won’t.

“As long as its not showing aggression at all,” they explained.

Even so, officials have cordoned off the playground area and told neighbors to be on the lookout – and to be aware of and stay away from the animal.

Eventually, the fox family will move on, likely not to be spotted again. But at least for one day folks got to see it. Officials say the playground area will stay closed until they are certain the fox has moved on.

Officials say if you spot any wild animals the best advice is to stay back, don’t frighten them, and don’t feed them. They’ll probably just go on their way.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.

More headlines from CBS17.com:

For more stories like this that matter to you, click here to download the CBS 17 News app for free.

Watch live newscasts, get breaking news and sign up for push alerts – download now

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More Local News
More National News
More Weather
More Sports
More Check This Out
More Wake County News
More Durham County News
More Cumberland County News
More Johnston County News
More Orange County News

Don't Miss