Steve Cyr spends a lot of time photographing wildlife in Aroostook County. But there’s one animal he has struggled to capture.
“I’ve actually put about 1,500 miles on my truck this year trying to get pictures of foxes,” said Cyr, a wildlife photographer who lives in Portage. “I’ve always wanted a prime fox in the winter photo.”
He had a chance two weeks ago when a taxidermist who lives nearby alerted Cyr to the presence of fox at the site of a deer kill.
Cyr went over and took a bunch of photos, but he had forgotten to change the settings on his camera after recently shooting the northern lights.
But Cyr’s luck with foxes changed on Wednesday morning.
Cyr said there have been three deer killed by coyotes near his camp in the last four or five weeks. He explained that the animals congregate in so-called deer yards in the area.
Warning: graphic content
“They’re kind of easy pickings right now with the deep, crusty snow and the icy driveways,” said Cyr, adding that coyotes have become more bold in frequenting areas close to homes.
He went outside Wednesday to check the sky and noticed something dark on the ground in his driveway.
“It didn’t take long to figure that it was a dead deer,” said Cyr, who believes it was one of his regular visitors, a small doe he had named Robin.
Cyr theorizes the kill occurred in the early morning hours and that his waking and turning on a light probably had sent the coyotes running into the woods.
“You’ve just got to live with it. It’s all part of life,” Cyr said.
There was evidence of where the coyotes attacked the deer in Cyr’s yard, prior to it being taken down. With the coyotes back in the woods, it opened the door for a pair of beautiful red foxes to take advantage of some fresh meat.
The animals spent some time hanging out and surveying the scene, providing Cyr with the chance to capture some gorgeous images of the foxes against a backdrop of snow and trees. He was kind enough to share several of those images for Bangor Daily News readers to enjoy.
One of the attached photos is raw, showing one of the foxes licking its mouth after partaking of the dead deer.
“Some people will find that violent and disgusting, but it’s part of nature. It’s not too graphic,” Cyr said.
He was pleased to have good conditions under which to photograph the foxes, including muted, overcast skies that limited shadows.
“It’s very cool. I guess it was meant to be,” Cyr said.
Cyr was later visited by a game warden who wanted to check out the deer kill and who planned to take possession of the animal and provide the venison to folks who could use it.
Cyr’s experience highlights the plight of deer trying to survive winter conditions and coyote predation in northern Maine, but it also is an example of the cycle of life among animals living in the woods.
And the scenario provided the opportunity for him to take some amazing fox photos. You can see more of Cyr’s work on his Instagram account.