Scientific Name: Vulpes vulpes
Classification: Game Species
Abundance: Common throughout state
Species Profile (PDF)
The red fox is the one of two types of foxes found in North Carolina.
The red fox is named for its reddish or orangish coloration. The tail, body and top of the head are all some shade of yellow-orange to reddish-orange. The undersides are light, and the tips of the ears and lower legs are black.
While rare in North Carolina, red foxes can occur in other color variations, such as black, silver, or a cross between red and silver, commonly known as a “cross fox.”
The tail is long (about 70 percent as long as the head and body length), bushy and has a white tip. Adults are the size of a small dog and weigh from 7.7 to 15.4 pounds.
Red foxes, like other wildlife species, prefer a diversity of habitats rather than large tracts of one habitat type. Preferred habitats include farmland, pastures, brushy fields and open forest stands. They frequently hunt the edges of these open habitats.
The red fox forages on a variety of prey, but mice, meadow voles and rabbits form the bulk of its diet. It will eat insects, birds, eggs, fruits and berries in spring, summer and fall. Since the red fox is also a scavenger, it may also eat carrion and garbage in some locations.
North Carolina offers some excellent hunting opportunities. If you are a resident or visitor to the state, please review the links below to ensure that you understand the rules, regulations and other guidelines.
Hunting regulations including Manner of Taking, Hunting on Federal Lands, big game, small game and migratory birds.
Why is big game harvest reporting important? Information and recent harvest totals listed by county for bear, deer and wild turkey.
The new Landowner Protection Act provides two ways for landholders to post their lands to allow only hunters, trappers and anglers with written permission to legally enter their property:
Sportsmen need written permission, dated within the past 12 months, signed by the land owner or lessee, to hunt, fish, or trap on lands posted with signs or purple paint. You must carry written permission on your person. If a hunting club has leased the land, hunters must have a copy of their hunting club membership and a copy of the landowner permission given to that club. Wildlife officers will enforce the Landowner Protection Act.
The Landowner Protection Act does not change general trespass laws nor have any effect on lands which are not posted. It does not repeal any local acts currently in effect that require written permission to hunt, fish or trap.
North Carolina law encourages owners of land to make property available for recreational use. The law states that a landowner who allows someone, without charge, onto their land for recreational purposes owes them the same duty of care they would owe a trespasser.
In North Carolina, it is unlawful for a person to interfere intentionally with the lawful taking of wildlife resources or to drive, harass, or intentionally disturb any wildlife resources for the purpose of disrupting the lawful taking of wildlife resources on public or private property. NOTE: This law does not apply to activity by a person on land he owns or leases or to a person who incidentally interferes with the taking of wildlife resources while using the land for other lawful activity such as agriculture, mining, or recreation.
Violation of this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable for a first conviction by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00, by imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or by both and punishable for a second or subsequent conviction by a fine left to the discretion of the court. (North Carolina General Statute 295)
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you experience unlawful harassment, immediately notify your nearest wildlife enforcement officer, county sheriff's office or local police department. Advise the authorities of this law and that you wish to hunt peacefully.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Do not provoke a fight, threaten reprisals or use profanity. Remember these anti-hunting activists are seeking confrontation and may be accompanied by the news media.
It is unlawful to:
North Carolina offers some great fishing opportunities. If you are a resident or visitor to the state, please review the links below to ensure that you understand the rules, regulations and other guidelines.
Inland Fishing Regulations (PDF)
Regulatory authority between the Wildlife Resources Commission and Division of Marine Fisheries. Inland game fish regulations include Manner of Taking, Seasons and Using Trotlines and Set-hooks.
Possession and Collection
Rules about possession, collection, taking and transporting nongame wildlife.
NC's State and Federally Listed Wildlife Species (pdf)
List of protected species in North Carolina
Possession and Collection
Facts about possession of wildlife.
Sale of Wildlife Regulations
Rules for buying and selling wildlife.
Regulations applying to wildlife that cause property damage.
If you require more specific information about a situation, you may contact the Wildlife Enforcement Division. For a legal opinion concerning a specific question, you may wish to consult a private attorney.
Seasons & Limits
There are nine species of resident small game in North Carolina including, three species of rabbits (Eastern cottontail, Appalachian cottontail, and marsh rabbit), three squirrels (fox, red and gray squirrels) and three birds (quail, grouse and pheasants). Many differences exist between the species including their distributions, abundances, and future conservation challenges. Information about other types of small game species, including woodcock, doves, groundhogs, etc., can be found in other parts of this website.
Habitat changes over the past 40-50 years have presented the greatest challenge to management, and for the most part, have been detrimental to small game. Conservation challenges include urban growth, habitat fragmentation, exotic plants and insects, incompatible farming and forestry practices, and unchecked forest succession. Currently, undisturbed maturing forest conditions are beneficial for most squirrel species. However, habitats are deteriorating for bobwhite quail and grouse which are dependent upon early successional conditions. Remnant populations of pheasants, a non-native gamebird, also continue to decline on the Outer Banks where larger populations once existed.
In situations where habitat is created for these species, small game populations are often quick to respond due to their high reproductive rates and ability to colonize new areas. To address recent declines of these species dependent on early successional habitat, the Wildlife Resource commission has developed programs such as the CURE (Cooperative Upland Habitat Restoration and Enhancement) program.
Many people hunt small game species in North Carolina. Each year approximately 150,000 sportsmen/ sportswomen take more than 1.0 million trips afield in pursuit of resident small game species. Based on a survey of hunters during a recent hunting season, it was estimated that hunters harvested approximately 8,750 grouse, 230,000 quail, 382,500 rabbits, and 482,000 squirrels in North Carolina
Trapping seasons are designed to allow the sustainable harvest of furbearers during a time of year when the fur is prime and can be utilized as a renewable natural resource. The trapping season also occurs when the annual rearing of young is past and the young are independent from their parents. That is why you cannot trap outside the regulated trapping season unless an animal is causing damage and you have a depredation permit.
Nov. 1 - Mar. 31
Statewide for beaver only.
Red Fox Distribution Map (PDF)
Coexisting with Foxes (PDF)
Fox and Coyote Populations Study Final Report - April 1, 2012 (PDF)
2011- 12 Harvest Survey of North Carolina Hunters (PDF 134 KB)
2010-11 Harvest Survey of North Carolina Hunters (PDF 102 KB)