Monday, September 24, 2018

Requiem for a Mangy Fox

Since the beginning of September, a small cadre of folk who walk regularly in the cemetery have been looking for the fox suffering from sarcoptic mange in the hope of figuring out its regular haunts so we could get it some help. This morning, I thought we had achieved that. 

The fox hadn't been seen by anyone for a few days, but on Saturday morning, Joey, who despite his fearful nature has a disturbingly strong prey drive, was obsessed by the hollow tree in Section D of the cemetery. He veered off the path, circled the tree, and poked his nose into the hollow, bent on rooting something out. I peered into the hollow but could see nothing, but Joey remained determined to pursue whatever he was convinced lurked inside the tree. This was the same tree near which the mangy fox was sighted on September 5 and which it was photographed exiting on September 10.


Joey's behavior convinced me that if the tree wasn't the fox's den, it was surely a place where the fox spent a fair amount of time and would regularly return.

Earlier today I received this picture of the fox taken on Sunday morning in the northeast corner of Cedar Park, across Newman Road from the transfer station--an area of the cemetery where the fox had been sighted several times before.


Now we had two likely places to find the fox. So I emailed the log of sightings I'd been keeping, the most recent photograph, and my conclusions about the fox's movements to the wildlife rehabilitator who said she would step in when we could reasonably pinpoint the fox's location. But alas, this afternoon I got word that, at 3:30 p.m., the fox had been found dead, just a few yards from the spot where it had been photographed crouching in the sun on Sunday morning.

I shared the news with the other fox watchers, and we commiserated about how sad we were and how bad we felt that we had failed in our efforts to help the fox. Then this evening, just as I had started writing this post, a reader sent me this picture of a fox sighted in Cedar Park in this morning.

  
This is not the mangy fox we'd been pursuing, the one that was found dead this afternoon, but it does appear, to my untrained eye, that this fox may be suffering the early stages of sarcoptic mange. Having failed to save the life of the first mangy fox we tried to help, maybe we can save the life of this one. 
COPYRIGHT 2018 CAROLE OSTERINK

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