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I'm happy to report that this years rehabilitation and release of two groups of orphaned cubs was a success and all cubs are now wild after undergoing a soft release programme. There was a group of 3 cubs (originally 5 although 2 sadly passed away after having seizures which I believe was caused by the ingestion of an unknown toxin) and a group of 5. Five is the maximum number of cubs I will have in one group so as not to overpopulate the area they are being released in. I can't give away the locations at which the cubs were released, due to fears of compromising their safety, but I can say that both areas are rural, surrounded by fields with no main roads in the immediate vicinity and one of the sites was composed of around 80 hectares of private land. The cubs were in pens at these sites for several weeks before the doors were opened - although at one of the sites nature allowed the cubs to leave early as strong winds blew the pen over! Thankfully it wasn't attached to the ground/mesh on the floor and so the cubs did not take off with it. I am told that the cubs are all still hanging around the release sites but I believe that over time some will start to disperse and find their own separate territories.

Onto Molly, who I mentioned in the last article as the fox who was suffering from toxoplasmosis and wasn't able to be released as once they suffer from toxo it takes away their fear instinct. It turned out that Molly was actually a male fox (my mistake for not checking properly!) and he was renamed Mersey. He was taken to the National Fox Welfare Society in Northampton where he will be mixed with other toxo foxes so he will have some company at least. I didn't feel it was the right call to put Mersey to sleep but he wouldn't have survived in the wild, and so taking him to a rescue where he can be mixed with others like him seemed to be the sensible option.

In terms of foxes that have been in with mange since the last article, I released Lilly, the fox who come in from Leeds suffering from mange and dehydration. She wasn't the worst case I'd seen, but still worth taking in and treating her as it only gets worse if not treated. I've had 6 others in with varying degrees of mange since the last article also. The worst of which was Xena, who came in from the Wirral almost completely bald and covered in sores/crust. Despite her poor condition she was a really feisty little lady and I knew she would pull through. A combination of antibiotics, mange treatment, rehydration support and a good diet soon turned her around and after several weeks she was released back with a coat (albeit a thin one) of fur. I picked another fox up from the same area who must have been a sibling of Xena, who was named Leila. Unfortunately as well as suffering from mange Leila was also a little bit raspy which didn't improve, and when I went in one morning and decided she needed to see the vet urgently it was too late, and she sadly died in the car park before I managed to get her there. She had already seen the vet prior to this who suggested giving her an advocate in case it was lungworm. Sadly this didn't fix the problem and we never got to the bottom of what the actual cause was.

It hasn't all been sad news though. I had another fox in from Manchester called Frankie who had such bad mange around his face that his eyes were closed over with the amount of crust. Some vegetable oil was poured over to loosen this crust and allow him to open his eyes, which also exposed a nasty wound above his right eye. Thankfully this healed over following antibiotics and cleaning with warm salt water. He was also given the usual mange treatments and after several weeks sent on his way back home.

Things have finally quietened down now, and the unit is currently empty, though I am currently trying to trap a fox in Manchester suffering from conjunctivitis and mange. I believe if I was successful in catching every fox I set out to catch the unit would be constantly full, and it has to be said the hardest part is actually catching the foxes in need in the first place. They don't get the reputation of being sly and cunning for nothing!

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