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6 varmints that we should embrace

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on March 12, 2013, 3:29 p.m.
red fox pup

Photo: mikebaird/Flickr

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Red fox

Ask anyone with a chicken coop what they think of the red fox and you'll probably get a range of responses, none of them very positive. The wily fox is well known — and well hated — for its ability to ravage chickens, rabbits or ducks. And they have earned their reputation for smarts as it seems there are few fenced areas that succeed at keeping a tenacious fox away from food housed within.

However, these varmints have a helpful side for farmers and ranchers. Like their larger canid cousin the coyote, red foxes are wonderful at keeping rodent populations down. They hunt chipmunks, rats, mice, voles and all sorts of other small rodents that can become more of a pest to humans than the foxes themselves. They also eat carrion and like other supposed varmints on this list, are part of an important cleanup crew for their ecosystem.