When the calls started about the families of fox that were coming out of the ravines to play in the sun in people’s yards or nice warm asphalted parking lots, I explained that there was nothing to be afraid of.
Animals, like humans, require sunlight’s vitamin D to stay healthy. Most of the animals that people think are nocturnal are not really, they are just smart enough to stay away from humans in daylight hours because we harm them.
I called CKOT and the Tillsonburg News and asked them to report the fox were not dangerous. They were not sick. We haven’t had rabies in mammals in SW Ontario in many years. If you don’t want them on your property, hang tin pie plates down low and the movement and noise will usually make the fox uncomfortable enough they will go elsewhere.
Evidently that was not enough for some people, they wanted them shot! I heard the police were called to come and shoot a family of fox, but the officer refused. Rightly so, there was nothing wrong with the animals and they were harming no one. For the next few weeks things quieted down and people seemed to be enjoying the privilege observing the families of fox.
Then people from town started reporting to Carol, a wildlife rehabber in St. Thomas who does fox, that one of the mother fox looked funny, like it was loosing it’s fur. Carol contacted Donna and I here in Tillsonburg. If we could find a place where that family of fox was coming too regularly, we could leave meat with a drug in it, which will cure the fox. Unfortunately, no one responded.
Then Carol heard about a fox, maybe a kit, that had a broken leg. Once again we were contacted to help. There was vet on standby to set the leg for us (no fee). We tried finding someone who had that fox coming to their yard regularly so we could live trap it. Donna got a sighting and went out about one in the morning trying to track it down and catch it by herself last weekend. She failed.
This last Sunday I was told that three foxes here in Tillsonburg had been shot and killed. Was this one full family of fox or did someone kill the three females and leave the kits to starve? Why they were shot? What steps had the people taken to deter the fox and/or what had the three foxes done that warranted their death? Who shot them?
I checked at our own police station and they had no recent calls about fox. They did not kill them, and would not kill them.
We are now trying to find out if the two foxes in need still need help or are they dead? If anyone has seen any fox in the last week please call me at 519-842-9416 and we will try to figure out which ones are dead and maybe track down the injured and sick ones to help them.
What can we do so this doesn’t happen again with any animal, whether it is a fox, cougar, bear or raccoon?
The biggest problem is that the public does not know enough about our wild neighbours and they need to learn, especially if you live on or near a ravine. They are not dangerous, even a bear, unless they are scared, threatened or cornered. Do not approach them. Leave them alone and they will go away. Pie plates and Pine-Sol will deter most animal and birds and if there are babies their mother will usually remove them herself, if you give the time to do it.
We need to have a wildlife plan in town, so when the public calls the Town or the Police, they can be told the proper people to contact. It is a major waste of taxpayer’s dollars to have police shooting wildlife especially in the amount of paperwork they must do when they draw their guns and they are not trained or responsible for wildlife. The Ministry of Natural Resources is in charge of wildlife but they are open Mon-Fri, nine to five, not in the evening and weekends when most wildlife problems occur, so they aren’t going to be there to help.
We need to know who the local trappers are and what animals they can do. Who has tranquilizer guns? Ontario Wildlife Rescue’s website has a list of rehabbers and what animals they do, but if nothing else, you should know to contact your local wildlife rehabbers here in town, who could help start the process. Most situations have simple non-life-threatening solutions. It is time we all learned not only how to live with our neighbouring wildlife but know what to do in an emergency, for our own safety and that of the animal as well.