Gray Fox - Procyon cinereoargenteus

Brief Natural History

The gray fox can exist in many types of habitats and climates; their range spans from North America all the way down into South America. There is no evidence that their numbers are fluctuating, implying the current population is stable. Threats to their populations include habitat loss and degradation as a result of human activity and conversion of their territories for urban use. Commercial use of the gray fox is limited to fur and being sold as pets, depending on specific state regulations. The gray fox can eat a variety of small animals such as small birds and insects, but they have a preference for cottontail rabbits. Their main predators are coyotes and wolves.

Where Do Gray Foxes that need Rescue Come From?

Private owners, closing roadside zoos, orphaned or injured individuals unable to be rehabilitated, fur farms, and nuisance animals are all possible sources of foxes in need. Although there are laws prohibiting the ownership of exotics in many states, every state’s laws are different, and even laws do not prevent some people from attempting to keep these animals.

Conservation Status

The gray fox is legally protected as a harvested species in Canada and the United States. The gray fox is listed under least concern according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and their population trends continue to be stable.

Exhibition/Captive Laws

Gray foxes are protected animals in Minnesota. Unless otherwise stated by fish and game laws, it is illegal to take, buy, sell, transport, or possess a protected wild animal.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only Federal law that regulates the treatment of animals used commercially and for research. The law states that it is illegal to transport, purchase, sell, house, care for, or handle warm-blooded wild native and exotic species (excepting birds and certain rats and mice) without the proper permit/license from the USDA. Laws applicable to the private ownership of animals vary by state.

Fun Facts

The gray fox is the only American canid that has the ability to climb trees, which gives them their nickname, the tree fox!


  • Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 2002. Web. 8 Aug. 2016.
  • Cypher, B.L., Fuller, T.K. & List, R. 2008. Urocyon cinereoargenteus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T22780A9385878.
  • "Grey Fox: The Animal Files." Grey Fox: The Animal Files. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2016.
  • "2015 Minnesota Statutes." 97A.015 -. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 July 2016.
  • "2015 Minnesota Statutes." 97A.501 -. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.