Conservationist and wildlife photographer Chase Dekker was born and raised in Monterey, California where he was immediately introduced to the natural world.
With whales, sea otters, seals, birds, and wildlife right on his doorstep, it wasn’t hard for him to fall in love with nature. He eventually moved up to Washington State where his passion for the outdoors took him to a brand new environment, filled with dense forests and mountains.
Chase attended Western Washington University where he earned degrees in Organismal Biology and Zoology, and then straight after college, moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he spent nearly every day out in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks photographing the spectacular wildlife and landscapes.
He explains how he ended up getting this fascinating and adorable set of images,
“I had visited this particular location in Washington state when I had lived there, but had never been in spring when the foxes build their dens and raise their kits. I had the opportunity to make a quick 4-day visit there while photographing killer whales in the Salish Sea, and ended up getting many more photos of the fox than I had anticipated!”
“I made my way to the den sites whenever I wasn’t out on the water, and would watch the family of 7 kits and 4 adults play and hunt for hours. There was another den a few hundred yards away, but that family was a little smaller and lacked a lot of the colour diversity this one had, so I focused mostly on the larger group.”
“The red fox on this island were introduced decades ago to help control the exploding rabbit population, which was also introduced….genius! Overall, the introduction has worked out, as both populations seem to thrive now, living right on top of each other. The red fox here are actually part of the Cascade red fox subspecies, native to Washington State in the US, where one can find the mixed coloration of silver, black, red, orange, blonde, and so on. The colours come from a wild type gene that has been passed down on the island for generations. Even though it can be hard to remember you are watching red fox, the surefire way to tell what species it is, is by looking at the tail. Red fox always have a white-tipped tail while their close cousins, the gray fox, have a black-tipped tail.”
The World is a Playground
“The fox here are extremely habituated to people and will constantly approach those watching them. With the assistance of rangers and other locals, the red fox have learned that food handouts are a thing of the past, so most close encounters are either just a fox trotting by, or a youngster becoming curious about their stalker. At one point, as I was lying prone on the ground to get eye level with two playing kits, I felt a slight nudge on my shoe. I slowly looked over my shoulder to find a silver morph (black coloured) fox kit nibbling on the corner of my shoe. He stayed there for about 2 minutes chewing on the rubber, and then eventually made his way within 2 feet of my face to give me quick sniff before running off. Brave little fellow!”
Hungry Mouths to Feed
“Besides all the playful antics of the kits, the parents were constantly working, bringing rabbit after rabbit to the den. On average, the parents would return to the den with a plump rabbit every 40 minutes or so, much to the joy of the kits. Whichever kit was alert enough to get to the parent first got the grand prize, and would run around in circles with its meal before retreating into one of many dens to feast. The other kits would usually follow the parents hoping for another meal, or maybe a nursing session from mom.”
For the full selection of images from this set click here.