Article and images by Jennifer Howard
Way back in March, Procyon started getting calls about sick and injured foxes. Location, Alcona. Not far from my home. Since I am known in my community as a rehabber, I was being contacted as well. I started working with the community to determine routines, times, and locations these foxes frequented. Then we started putting out live traps.
Emails, messages, and calls poured in. We almost had the injured fox a few times, but every time a neighbor’s dog would make an appearance and chase him or be too close for comfort, or he just would not go all the way in. People were around, it just never worked. In this area, there are a lot of feral cats with people feeding them which causes problems for us when trying to capture an animal. They need to be hungry thus improving our chances to capture them. It can be frustrating for all involved. At one point we had six live traps out for five foxes. We now have gotten four since March. And two others earlier in January/February. Totaling six.
Let me say before I continue, that during these pandemic times when all you hear is bad, this became a really good experience. Although it was very tiring, demanding, and frustrating, it was these tiny little foxes’ lives that brought so many people together. Good caring compassionate people. Yes, they still exist. In a world with so much negativity these days I thought, let’s talk about the goodness out there we rarely hear anything about.
It had been at least six weeks trying to get two foxes and although we had been close, close isn’t enough. Then more calls, another fox with mange, then another. One in Belle Ewart. It just kept going.
We also got a few calls from people regarding what they thought were orphaned fox kits. So, I set up cameras and all were found to be fine. Parents came mostly at night. Although in the case of one particular family, the little ones were barking and barking and seemed incredibly stressed, however, the cameras showed both Mom and Dad were indeed there and busy bringing food. Families with four, eight and five kits respectively were all good. And then another with three; all good. Remember, parents are busy feeding, and are most active it seems at night once kits get bigger. As long as the kits seem content and are playful and healthy looking then it is safe to assume that parents should be coming and caring for them.
On April 24th, I decided to go check on a trap as the fox was reported to be there daily. He showed up and hung around for two hours. He went in and out of the trap four times while I sat and
watched. What had gone wrong? The trap had jammed. But he got a food reward so not all was lost. Just my mind.
He went away with a full tummy and that was important too. I got help from a newfound friend, Sue from Pawsitive Ground Search, who rescues lost dogs; another job and a half. She lent us a trap and the use of a camera on that trap. Between her equipment and Procyon’s trap and my camera we were getting great information on the routines of these foxes. My other good friend who does wildlife rescue gave me some little tricks he uses. One, two, and then all three foxes were caught within four days, between April 25th to 28th. This accomplishment was exhausting but exhilarating at the same time.
Since then, the fox who started all this has gone AWOL. Just no way he would go in. No matter what we did. I feel he is out there somewhere as he has totally changed his routine. Still a trap ready for him. And another one, same thing, has totally changed his hunting area. On May 20th I got another report of a very, sick fox. Another was trap set. We caught this beautiful tiny girl within 24 hours with the help of a nice young couple. She is an older fox kit, from this year, and was in bad shape. Her name is Arrow.
Trooper was our first of this lot and has been successfully rehabbed and was recently released. Katie and Bear were next. Little Arrow will be some time yet. This was a job well done by a team, helped by a community.
Trooper, Katie and Bear have come a long way.
Know we cannot do this without you. The saying, “It takes a community,” is so true. Our team cannot do our job without you out there. You bring us our babies, so many beautiful orphans, some injured, some sick.
But one thing you must remember is when you find them, call us. Do not feed them, do not keep them. Contain them safely, keep them warm and call. If it is after hours, keep them contained and warm. Call us, leave a message and in the morning, the phone volunteer who is on-call, starting at 8 am, will get back to you. If we are full, we will give you directions on what to do to find a rehab.
A great resource is www.ontariowildliferescue.ca . While there, look up rehabs who will take the animal you have and start calling. DO NOT GIVE ANYTHING BY MOUTH. Nothing. You can do more harm than good, causing horrible consequences for that baby. Remember we are trained and licensed under the MNRF. And we have the right formulas for each species. We have incubators if something goes wrong.
Should like to have an update, please call for one. We are happy to give it to you. Just call 905 729 0033. Try to ask for the case number upon admitting the animal, so it makes it easy for us to look up the information quickly. We are extremely busy caring for many mouths right now.
We have been busy releasing special patients. Captain Lucky has gone free, our amputee whose hind leg was amputated in order to save his life. He now runs in the wilderness again, Willow and Dex, our two raccoons who had to have their tails amputated to save their lives are also back in the wild. All beautiful releases.
Now we are starting to move baby raccoons outside. With pools, toys, enrichments to teach them how to be raccoons. So precious and cute. A lot of our squirrels, other raccoons, opossums, and rabbits are already back in the wild, making room for more. But still, we are full.
Soon construction will start on our much-needed outdoor enclosures. More raccoons, fox and coyote enclosures will be built. All our animals are housed separately, small mammals, bats, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. Everyone has their own space. No one sees the other. Every life that passes through our door is our number one priority to pull through from whatever the issue. To make them better and then to set them free again. Each and every one. Even baby mice which are extremely tiny and delicate are rescued.
In closing, I want to tell you that our job is made much easier if you do not try to care for any animal on your own. Google does not train you, or provide you with the right tools to do the job at hand. Also, you are not always given correct information. Please call us right away. I cannot stress this enough. Keep them warm and quiet. That is your job. Keep your cats inside. That alone, can save 1000’s of lives. Literally.
And from all of us to all of you, thank you for helping. We must work together as a team.
But remember also that not all animals make it. We do everything in our power but sometimes it’s not meant to be. And it hurts us as much as you. Maybe even more. Because every one of us volunteer our time to save lives. And we do not give up easily. Life in the wild can be tough.
HELP is in YOUR hands… it’s in all OUR hands!
Procyon Wildlife Rehabilitation