TORONTO -- Bylaw enforcement officers will soon begin patrolling Woodbine Beach at night in an effort to get people to stay away from a family of foxes living underneath the boardwalk.

The mother fox and her kits have been living underneath the boardwalk since at least late April and city officials have been working to discourage people from getting too close, lest the wild animals get used to humans.

In a message posted to Facebook on Thursday night, the Toronto Wildlife Centre said that despite erecting “higher fencing with visual barriers” and signage detailing the dangers of interacting with the foxes, people are continuing to surround the den around dawn and late into the evening.

The centre says that volunteers are performing “aversive conditioning during daylight hours to help the foxes re-learn their natural fear of people,” though they say that the work will go to waste if people continue to interact with the animals.

“Although the adults are cautious, the family now sees humans as no threat and are associating them with food after their babies have been fed numerous times. This behaviour could ultimately cause their deaths,” the message reads.

“Although it seems unpleasant, aversive actions (like chasing them and making loud noises to scare them) will ultimately save their lives. It’s critical that they learn a healthy fear of people as they grow into adult wild animals.”

The Toronto Wildlife Centre has set up a camera along the boardwalk to monitor the foxes and the actions of the public.

It says that on Thursday night “two photographers and a handful of people shone flashlights on the foxes and ignored social distancing to disturb the family.”

On other occasions, people have also been spotted hand-feeding the kits, the centre said.

“Aa result, we are now working with the city to further protect the foxes; bylaw officers will now be conducting an evening patrol to prevent this from happening again,” the post reads.

“If you see groups of people (which is also dangerous due to COVID-19) around the foxes, or anyone feeding them, please report it to 311.”