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Foxing Out Winter Animals

When most people think about the Arb in winter, it seems cold, bleak and devoid of life, however, while it may be a little quieter than in the summer months, it is still inhabited by a number of animals, some of the most active of which are the warm-blooded mammals. The biggest by far are white-tailed deer, which make small, packed down trails in the snow as they weave through the trees in their small family groups. The carnivores of the Arb are perhaps the most elusive; there are coyotes, red foxes and gray foxes (in descending order of size). These canine cousins of dogs dwarf the other present carnivores, including minks, skunks, and long-tailed weasels. The Cannon River hosts beavers and muskrats, while raccoons wander the banks in search of anything they can get their hands on.

Back in the woods, three species of squirrels (Red, Gray, and Fox) live off of the acorns and black walnuts they gathered in the fall, and voles create small tunnels in the snow to evade flying predators. For similar reasons, Eastern Cotton- tail rabbits bound quickly from one briar patch to the next, nibbling off the bark on twigs. Hibernating underground are ground squirrels and woodchucks, while badgers, gophers and moles wait for the snow to recede in the safety of their tunnels. With the exception of the last few, most mammals of the Arb remain active above ground all year long and are possible to see while taking a winter walk, so keep your eyes peeled!

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