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Paws for the fox man


This year will be the first in which I’ve done cub rehabilitation and release from start to beginning – i.e. from the moment cubs arrive to the moment they are released into the wild. In previous years I’ve taken the cubs to other rescues as I’ve only had 1 in at time and they need to be mixed as soon as possible to avoid becoming tame/to ensure they have company. As such, the past couple of weeks have been revolving around the construction of a release pen for the first set of cubs that are being released this year. It’s been a tough time as I’ve been determined to get the pen made as soon as possible to get the cubs out quicker and so this has meant working weekends and evenings, and fitting in extra work such as dealing with the foxes I have in currently, plus dealing with messages/putting out traps in between. This month has saw the arrival of an adult fox, Molly, who is suffering from toxoplasmosis (caused by a parasite that affects the central nervous system and thus the behaviour of foxes – making them loose their fear of humans). She is on antibiotics for this although unfortunately the damage is done neurologically and she will never regain her fear of humans that would be necessary for her survival in the wild. As a result of this, I am unable to release her and instead am going to have to find a suitable home for her in captivity – somewhere where they have experience of dealing with unreleasable foxes. I have had a massive influx in the amount of messages of people offering this girl a home, although I will be extremely strict when deciding where she goes to ensure she goes to the right environment.

The only other adult fox currently in the unit is Lilly, who was caught in Leeds after she was reported suffering from mange. It’s not the worst case of mange I have seen, but it was worth bringing her in for treatment as skin looked in bad condition where the mange was affecting her. She’s so far had 2 mange treatments and is on a course of antibiotics for her skin. As she was dehydrated she’s also been having subcutaneous fluid injections to ensure she stays hydrated. I don’t anticipate her being in the unit for too long, especially as she’s quite nervous and not taking well to being caged up, unlike Molly who is taking it all in her stride.

Regarding the cubs, the first release pen is now finished and I plan on assembling that at the release site tomorrow. For the welfare and safety of the foxes I will not be disclosing the location of the release site, or even what county it is based in, but I will say that it’s a rural area (as foxes have a longer life expectancy in such areas) and the person who’s site I am using has 180 hectares of land. Once the cubs are in the release pen they’ll be there for 4 weeks until the door to the pen is opened at which time they will be free to come and go as they please until they are comfortable enough to fend for themselves in the wild, and likely disperse and find their own dens/territories. After these cubs are moved, I’ll be starting on pen number 2 which I aim to get finished within a week and then get the other group of cubs out. These will be going to a different location, though again it will be a rural area. As the biggest killer of foxes is cars, rural areas are much safer for them than urban ones. As one of the outdoor pens will be available this week I also plan to move Molly from the unit into one of the pens so she has more space to spread her legs and can enjoy the fresh air.

Last month I mentioned I was trying to trap a fox in Wirral dragging its legs. Unfortunately this fox has not been spotted for a few weeks now so we can only assumed it has died. The fox in Leeds with the suspected pelvic injury has been turning up but avoiding the trap. It’s a reflection on how half the battle with fox rescue is actually catching them in the first place in order to help them, as they don’t know that that’s the intention, and simply see traps as a danger. More traps are going out weekly and it seems as soon as one fox goes out another comes in. There is no shortage of foxes needing help in the North West and I will do my best to help if they will only let me.

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