The cross fox has a color that is similar to the red fox, but what sets it apart from the other species is its distinct long dark stripe. The stripe runs down its back, intersecting another stripe to form a cross over the shoulders. If you’ve ever seen one of these fascinating creatures, you are one of the few lucky people to have had that chance. They are much rarer than a standard red fox. Although not as valuable as silver foxes, the coats from cross foxes were often traded among fur traders. The value of the pelt depended largely on how dark the pelt was. If it was a more pale color, it was less valuable.
As for their physical conformation, cross foxes are identical to red foxes but vary in several other ways. They may be slightly larger with a bushier tail and more wool under their feet. Their flanks and sides are a reddish yellow color, while their muzzle, ears, and underparts are black. The tail is usually a mix of the two colors but is very distinct, always displaying a white tip.
Cross fox are found in the northern areas of North America, which is why there have been sightings of these animals along the North Shore. They make up over 30% of Canada’s red fox population! Although they have a different look, cross fox act in similar ways as other fox and are found in almost the same habitat.
The fox population on the North Shore is alive and well. It’s the second most common larger mammal to spot when visiting, second only to whitetail deer. But, while a fox sighting isn’t rare, a cross fox sighting is! Many in the Hovland and Grand Portage areas have reported seeing a cross fox in recent years. There has also been spotting in the Gunflint Trail area. It seems these fox prefer less populated areas, although that’s really just a coincidence. Not a reflection of their personalities or preferences.