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Photographing the Foxes of New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park

For more photos from the park, explore the Island Beach State Park location page. For more nature photos and videos from the US Northeast, follow @thesecondgleam and @darrenerbe on Instagram.

Off the coast of New Jersey, 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of sand dunes and tidal marshes make up Island Beach State Park, a protected 10-mile (16-kilometer) stretch of barrier island. Among the wildlife that call the island home, a population of photogenic red foxes inhabit the park’s thickets and marine forests. When Haley Decker (@thesecondgleam) and boyfriend Darren Erbe (@darrenerbe) first began visiting the island with hopes of photographing the animals, they were only met with paw prints disappearing into the dunes. Toward the end of winter, however, when fewer people frequented the park, their luck changed. “We parked in a huge empty parking lot, and all of a sudden foxes started popping up out of nowhere from all directions,” Haley tells. “We kept a distance and one curious fox came closer and closer right by our parking spot! It is kind of scary to be so close to a wild animal. You never know how they’ll react.”

A resident of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Haley finds inspiration in the natural world around her. “The Northeast is where I thrive. I am an outdoors type of person, and without fresh air and trees I tend to get cabin fever,” she says. Haley and Darren bonded through their mutual love for photography, and their relationship takes them on frequent adventures together. “We’re definitely a team when shooting photos. One of us has an idea and the other helps that come to fruition,” Haley explains. “But with the foxes, we just both approached them slowly and we switched off between shooting with an iPhone or a digital camera. If one of us was taking pictures of the foxes, the other was making sure the foxes felt comfortable.”

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