Thanks to the collaborative actions of Port Bruce residents, a sick fox with mange has been treated, restored back to health, and released back into its habitat.
Several community members, including Patricia Ann and Miriam McLean, posted to the online “Port Bruce Past and Present” Facebook page in early May about fox sightings. The male fox, nicknamed Bruce, was spotted on properties, roadways, and the pier.
After some discussion, numerous Port Bruce residents informed St. Thomas-based animal rescue, Another Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation.
“I was struck not only by how many people in Port Bruce were aware of this fox but how much people cared about what happened to him,” said John Marcellus of Another Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation.
“It takes a village. Everybody was so involved,” added Sean Foster, a resident of the lakeside hamlet.
A fox trap was set up the morning of May 5 on Mr. Foster’s property by Mr. Marcellus. The fox was caught by mid-afternoon.
Carol Clark of Another Chance said they had been trying to catch and treat the fox for quite some time. “They’re often very difficult to trap unless they’re starving to death… then they’re more tempted to get in the trap for food,” she said.
The organization was initially hoping to medicate the animal and release it immediately, but upon assessment determined that it should be taken into care for a while.
They determined that the fox was affected by mange, a type of skin disease caused by parasitic mites. The disease had progressed to the point where it hurt his eyesight, caused skin lesions and fur loss.
“He was probably going more by scent than he was by sight at that point, which made it easier to get him,” said Ms. Clark.
At Another Chance, Bruce was treated for mange, comfortably housed, cleaned, fed nutritious food, and given a long-acting antibiotic to help with his skin lesions to heal over time. Ms. Clark expects his fur to eventually grow back.
By Monday, his eyesight had cleared up, and by Tuesday, he was desperately trying to get out of the cage, said Ms. Clark. The fox stayed for about a week before being released back into the Port Bruce area.
She added it is common practice to drop animals back off in the same location they were found after rehabilitation.
“We always return them to where they came from. They have their own territory, they know where their dens or food sources are,” said Ms. Clark. “If you take an animal and drop them off in an unknown territory, there may be challenges, because it may be another animal’s territory.”
The release was filmed and posted online to the social media group.
Bruce the fox spent the next day travelling all around Port Bruce barking, “announcing the return to his territory,” said Ms. Clark.
Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express