Foxes at Play
April 28, 2012 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Across America, people on golf courses have noticed the trend of foxes stealing golf balls. More, more, and more.

The phenomenon has now spread to France, where foxes have been caught snatching boules de pétanque.
posted by gimonca (58 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Things are worth 2-3 bucks each...these times, who can blame 'em?
posted by sfts2 at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I see that the Frisbee Golf Liberation Front's fox training program is proceeding according to schedule.
posted by percor at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


"It is interesting. Foxes don't lay eggs. Maybe they think it is an egg. I don't know."

Excellent reporting by WZZM 13.
posted by cribcage at 8:06 AM on April 28, 2012 [26 favorites]


Delighted to see this--it makes for a better and more just world. Thanks
posted by rmhsinc at 8:06 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


My Husky steals socks, and brings them to me. She will bring me your cell phone if you put it down. She's also taken to bringing me towels from the linen closet

I don't know, it seemed relevant.
posted by HuronBob at 8:11 AM on April 28, 2012 [18 favorites]


Not another Fox news post!
posted by TedW at 8:12 AM on April 28, 2012 [50 favorites]


REASONABLE ASSUMPTION:

They think they're eggs.

UNREASONABLE BUT ENTERTAINING ASSUMPTION:

Tiny fox gold courses in the woods! Tiny fox golfing pants!
posted by The Whelk at 8:12 AM on April 28, 2012 [33 favorites]


It is interesting. Foxes don't lay eggs.

Excellent reporting by WZZM 13.

That is hilarious. I'm going to be giggling all day at the idea that a fox wouldn't be expected to be interested in an egg unless it were its own egg. A fox egg.

We have crows that spend a fair amount of time on our balcony and they are welcome. However, they do fairly deliberately move the low noise block on my satellite dish out of the correct angle and thereby ruin my dvr recordings. IMO, these animals know _exactly_ what they are doing, don't buy that "I'm incredibly cute and it's all some kind of interspecies misunderstanding" shit. Those foxes are hanging out together at the edge of the clearing and one says to the other "watch me make that guy with the stick flip out."
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 8:22 AM on April 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


I say, old chap. These eggs are a disgrace! Such wretched texture and flavour. And the portions, so small.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:23 AM on April 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Foxes don't lay eggs" reads like a new kind of koan or something. I want to paint it above my door
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 AM on April 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, they are canines.

They're probably just playing a long, slow, strategic game of fetch.
posted by jrochest at 8:24 AM on April 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


These animals know _exactly_ what they are doing
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 AM on April 28, 2012 [19 favorites]


Tiny fox gold courses in the woods! Tiny fox golfing pants!

This is a world I want to live in.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:27 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because any excuse to post this is a good one.
posted by Fizz at 8:30 AM on April 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


1. Foxes are cool.

2. They can make a screaming noise that will give you shivers if you don't know what it is.

3. Foxes have been stealing golf balls forever. This was a situation on several courses I used to play in the DC area in the 80s.

4. If I sold trampolines, I'd definitely train foxes as spokescritters.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:36 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


The woman asking, "You blame it on the fox?" at about 1:40 in the first link is probably the highlight of my day so far.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:47 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fox's egg passion prevents man from getting birdie; film at 11!
posted by yoink at 8:50 AM on April 28, 2012


College Park Golf Course in Atlanta is (or was in the late '90's) right next to public housing. It ain't foxes stealing your golf balls that wander into the woods, and it ain't foxes that sell them back to you at $5 the bag.
posted by Infinity_8 at 8:50 AM on April 28, 2012


2012: The year the "stealing human play-rocks" meme (the fox equivalent to planking) becomes too popular, resulting in Vulpinternet being discovered by humanity.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:55 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


i believe i have located the ringleader
posted by elizardbits at 8:57 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


(idk why i thought there would be far more results for "fox in plus fours")
posted by elizardbits at 8:58 AM on April 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Foxes don't lay eggs" reads like a new kind of koan or something.

You are probably thinking of Hyakujo's Fox. Stealing a golf ball or whether foxes lay eggs isn't quite the same as slapping your teacher, but I suppose it shows belief in cause and effect.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:59 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been spending too much time with a four year old. I keep thinking this whole problem could be easily solved by someone standing next to the golf balls and loudly saying "Swiper, no swiping!" three times and then waiting for the fox to plaintively reply "Ohhhh Maannnn!" while sadly walking away.
posted by honestcoyote at 9:10 AM on April 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


They laughed at me when I trapped foxes, trained and released them. They scoffed. "Scoff, scoff!", they said. But now, the balls are mine! MINE!
posted by Splunge at 9:26 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Foxes seem to collect things that they simply like the look of -- when we moved a tool shed at my parents' that had previously had a den beneath it we found a bicycle chain and a metal food dish along with the usual detritus -- and golf balls may fall under their criteria.

Also, raccoons are certainly interested in shiny objects, and crows (or maybe ravens) like to put pebbles on railroad tracks. The former example I sort of understand, but what do those birds have going on?
posted by mr. digits at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2012


Flagged as awesome.
posted by adamvasco at 9:35 AM on April 28, 2012


what do those birds have going on?

They are terrorists, but bad at physics.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 9:37 AM on April 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Foxes are so cool. It's quite possible they do think they're eggs, but foxes also have a clear sense of curiosity. I wouldn't put it past foxes to be doing this because they think it's fun.
posted by darksong at 9:46 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should add that it was my understanding that their pebbles would be sufficient to derail a hi-rail (truck outfitted with steel wheels that can be lowered to grab the rails) if the driver was going too fast on a curve, but I was never in one when it happened... it'd likely be a pain in the rear to get back on the rails, though.
posted by mr. digits at 9:47 AM on April 28, 2012


So, you know, maybe they've got some grasp about the repercussions of their actions?
posted by mr. digits at 9:49 AM on April 28, 2012


corvids are indeed tricksy bastards
posted by elizardbits at 9:52 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only are they tricky, but apparently they have a bad reputation -- the seagulls that come around my apartment for food won't compete with any crow(s) on the scene, even though the gulls are larger and generally outnumber them by three or four to one.
posted by mr. digits at 10:00 AM on April 28, 2012


This clip has some great fox stealing golf ball footage. The little guy looks practically domesticated, trotting out onto the putting greens.
posted by grog at 10:01 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is has slightly freaked me out as a fox stole my golf ball last week and now this appears on the blue, but perhaps, on reflection, this is the wrong response, because it would seem that the coincidence is not particularly noteworthy as golfball stealing seems to be a global fox trend/fad.

For what it's worth, the fox that stole my ball seemed to be baiting me, i.e. I hit a short pitch into the green, the fox appeared from behind a bunker, trotted across the green, picked up the ball and then ran ten yards to the edge of the green. As you might imagine I was a little taken aback by this strange turn of events, so stood and looked at it for about 30 seconds, not entirely sure what to do. It stood and looked right back at me with what I can best describe as a defiant look. For want of anything better to do I started waving my pitching wedge and jogged towards it in the half-hearted hope it would drop the ball, the fox didn't do so and ran about 20 yards towards the bushes and then stopped and looked at me until I moved towards it again shaking my club. The fox then turned tail and disappeared into the bushes, however, not before stopping to look at me one last time from the edge of the brambles. That it didn't just grab the ball and tear off suggests to me that this behaviour is more complex than simple food gathering, but this is, off course, anecdote and not science. Either way foxes 1, humans 0.
posted by johnny novak at 10:10 AM on April 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, although it wasn't in a competition or anything, I have no idea how to score my card for that hole. Any suggestions?
posted by johnny novak at 10:13 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no stolen ball rule so I am afraid you are going to have to go with lost ball. A friend of mine maintains that the one stroke penalty for losing your golf ball adds insult upon injury. He believes losing a ball is plenty of penalty and refuses to add a stroke as a matter of principle.
posted by bukvich at 10:17 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, although it wasn't in a competition or anything, I have no idea how to score my card for that hole. Any suggestions?

I don't know the official rule ( the sometimes truly assinine PGA rules probably charge you a stroke), but I would treat it as winter rules. Place a new ball as close as possible to where the first ball landed and play on. No charge.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:18 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


My favorite part of the last "more" video is when the fox pick up the ball from the grass and puts it in a sand trap. Definitely lends credence to the theory that they're intentionally messing with the humans.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:35 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by sfts2 at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2012


That it didn't just grab the ball and tear off suggests to me that this behaviour is more complex than simple food gathering

You wouldn't be saying that from the bottom of the pitfall trap you fell into had you followed the fox another 15 yards into the bushes.
posted by jamaro at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll bet the foxes were there before the golf courses.

Fuck golf.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:48 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems they don't limit themselves to just the golf balls.
posted by Darken Skye at 10:53 AM on April 28, 2012


I didn't find this Add-On in the Manager yet...
posted by tykky at 11:10 AM on April 28, 2012


"It is interesting. Foxes don't lay eggs. Maybe they think it is an egg. I don't know."

Foxes use the eggs to trap Easter Bunnies.
posted by mule98J at 11:19 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not just foxes. One Edmonton golf course has a squirrel golf ball problem going back years. Apparently they like to chew them.

The images at that link are long dead, but Brian Gavriloff's adorable photo from that story can be found here.
posted by figurant at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe they are collecting balls for some new version of whackbat.
posted by hooray at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fizz: "Because any excuse to post this is a good one. "

Part of our annual holiday tradition is to catch the PBS Nature "Christmas at Yellowstone" documentary so we can see our favorite part: this fox.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Awww. I vote they're just being playful. They've found a safe place to raise their young & when the kits start whining about how bored they are, mom or dad pops out to get them a ball to play with.

Could be worse. In Whistler you've got bears and while no one is saying it, they seem to be trying to steal the flags and joy riding in the carts.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:54 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Last year, I was leaving work at a hospital on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and a fox trotted across the street and ducked into the bus stop. I can only assume he was waiting for the 22 bus, presumably to take the pink line into the Loop. I guess the bus was taking too long... he waited for about 10 seconds and then trotted off toward the lake.

True story.
posted by honeybee413 at 12:51 PM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The pétanque-stealing fox link has utterly confounded me.

First things first: who leaves their pétanque balls out at night?? In southern France it's practically a religion. Every moderately serious player has their own balls, carried in leather sacks of 3, or theirs and a family member's carried in a larger case of two rows of 3. They're made of steel... they rust if not cared for properly.

Second quandary: foxes are rather small. A leisure pétanque ball weighs at least 600g, or 1.3 pounds; 650g (1.4lb) minimum for a competition boule. A fox weighs about 13 pounds (5.9 kg). So... they're carrying one tenth their weight just for the heck of it??

Mais c'est excellent!! :)
posted by fraula at 1:07 PM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


The pétanque-stealing fox link has utterly confounded me.

I love this analysis -- and in metric and imperial for added oomph! Hurrah!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:45 PM on April 28, 2012


Fantastic Mr Fox is doing this instead of stealing chickens, not quite the same buzz but he does now have a lovely paved yard.
posted by arcticseal at 4:22 PM on April 28, 2012


Not only are they tricky, but apparently they have a bad reputation -- the seagulls that come around my apartment for food won't compete with any crow(s) on the scene, even though the gulls are larger and generally outnumber them by three or four to one.

As if I need a reason to love crows more. Fucking seagulls.
posted by emjaybee at 4:42 PM on April 28, 2012


Wow 38 boules? I'd love to see his den, are they gathered round to make a massaging bed?
posted by sweetmarie at 12:05 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Golf courses have trained foxes and the pro shops are selling used golf balls.
posted by srboisvert at 5:44 AM on April 29, 2012


The phenomenon has now spread to France, where foxes have been caught snatching boules de pétanque.

Wow. I have a set of pétanque and those balls are not light. That fox must have a good reason for stealing that thing. Now if we were talking about stealing the "cochonnet ", I could understand how a fox would pick that up.

Then again maybe it's a foxy thing to do for his lady friend. . .
posted by WestChester22 at 8:11 AM on April 29, 2012


About heavy and metal pétanque balls--I was wondering about that myself. One of the commenters on the article says: "Il semblerait que les boules soient des boules pour les jeux d'enfants, pas en métal." Sounds like a reasonable guess, maybe it was a kid's set made out of plastic or something else.
posted by gimonca at 8:45 AM on April 29, 2012


A friend of mine maintains that the one stroke penalty for losing your golf ball adds insult upon injury. He believes losing a ball is plenty of penalty and refuses to add a stroke as a matter of principle. cheats at golf.

FTFY
posted by kjs3 at 4:38 AM on April 30, 2012


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