Thursday, August 3, 2017

City Living Among the Foxes and Rabbits

People living in rural areas are used to seeing wildlife or having encounters, hopefully from a distance. I admit we have a can of bear spray in our cupboard - purchased a few years ago before hiking around Jackson, WY. I hope to never use it living here in central Denver, despite it being recommended recently by a state wildlife professional to deter raccoons from feeding on apples or peaches. She said one hit of the spray and they won't return. Our apple tree died years ago and we no longer have peach trees, but we do have rabbits and squirrels all around us and now, a very sick fox.

The rabbits are easy to keep out of the backyard, a four foot small mesh wire fence attached to the wrought iron has kept them away from the lettuce and the lawn. I still see four or five of them in our neighborhood quietly resting on front lawns taking a nibble here and there in between their daytime naps. Some look a bit thin and possibly mangy, but not nearly as sick as the fox we encountered a couple of days ago. 

Ferris, our dog alerted us to the fox in the corner of our front yard upon returning from an early morning walk. It was immediately evident that the poor critter was very unwell and not interested in moving away quickly. It was lying on mulch near the neighbor's north fence behind some of our bushes. We quickly got Ferris in the house and blocked him from going out on that side of the house.

The photo is disturbing to say the least. The face is clearly plagued with mange or some kind of infection. When it walked around the fence to the neighbor's yard to hide under his low deck, it was clear the tail and legs were also diseased. Honestly, I thought the animal was some kind of escaped small goat, which are legal to have in Denver - it looked nowhere near what a fox is supposed to look like.  

After calls to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Denver Animal Shelter, the neighbor and I got a visit by a helpful, friendly Animal Protection Investigator from the Denver Animal Shelter. Ordinarily they do not get involved with nuisance wildlife, but since this fox was sick or possibly injured, they took action. The investigator did his best to try to view the fox under the deck, but the area was too dark and wide to see very far. Based on the many sightings of this sick animal on the local Nextdoor website, he said he'd set up a trap. The trap caught a squirrel the first night, nothing last night. 

There's not much more that can be said about wildlife moving in or coexisting in and near cities and people. They were here first. I don't blame them for hanging out where food is pretty accessible. The city born and raised Canadian geese in Denver parks are a draw for foxes and coyotes. Another neighbor recently told me that someone on her block regularly puts out dog food for foxes, not a good idea, obviously, plus it is against the law in Denver. 

We know the dangers of being near or touching sick wildlife and our first priority is for our safety and health of our children and pets. My hunch is the poor fox has moved on to the weedy space near the highway south of us to quietly die. Rest in peace.

8-8-2017 Update  I was told that the fox was found earlier today a half a block from our house and quietly euthanized by the City of Denver Animal Shelter. I don't know the details other than it was a very, very sick fox and was easily caught and died peacefully.   

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