Whether he's sly is debatable, but a certain furry mammal has been spotted making the rounds in Dublin and Hilliard.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recently reported an increased number of phone calls about red-fox sightings in the two cities, according to assistant wildlife management supervisor Karen Norris. She said it's likely because of an increase in the number of plentiful habitats for them.

Small parks with tall shrubs and grass are providing habitats and food sources for foxes, Norris said. When mice and other small mammals move into the area, the foxes follow. Ornamental yard grasses also attract the fox, she said.

"That's where they hunt, and it provides excellent cover for them," she said.

When residents have seen foxes recently, they likely saw juvenile foxes learning to hunt, Norris said. At this time of year, the young have been out of their dens for a while and have become more curious, she said.

As long as they aren't cornered, foxes aren't dangerous, Norris said. To get one out of your yard, she recommended stretching your arms out and making a lot of noise.

"They're going to scurry in the other direction," Norris said.

Foxes typically are active at night, Norris said. To those who have seen a fox in their yard, however, she recommends surveying the area before letting out a small dog or cat.

Although the ODNR would send an officer to address an injured animal, a healthy wild animal's best chance of survival is to be left in the wild, she said.

Although they might be cute, don't touch them or take them inside the home. They can carry diseases and parasites, Norris said.

In Dublin, the ODNR has fielded reports of foxes with mange, Norris said.

A skin disease that affects mammals, mange causes itching, hair loss, scabs and lesions. Parasitic mites cause the disease, which is occasionally communicable to humans, according to pets.webmd.com.

In mid-July, city officials were tracking four foxes with mange, said Dublin spokeswoman Sarah McQuaide.

"Thanks to high levels of engagement on social media, we received several reports that helped us locate and treat the foxes, with help from SCRAM Wildlife Control and Ohio Wildlife Center," McQuaide said.

To learn what to do about suspected orphaned or injured wildlife, go to bit.ly/1sXdxLX.

To report a fox suspected of being ill or injured, call the ODNR Wildlife District 1 office at 614-644-3925.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah