On a busy June afternoon, a pair of park staffers responded to a report of an injured fox pup. Here’s what they found:
Campers alerted us to whimpering coming from a viewing platform along the Cedar Sands Trail at Sandbanks Provincial Park.
We located the little pup underneath the platform and carefully pulled him out.
He was very little and in bad shape. He was tangled in fishing line and had been cut by a large barbed fishing lure. The barbed hooks on either end had pierced his mouth and three legs.
He wasn’t able to move. We believe he bit into the lure — likely to play with it — then got caught. When he used his paws to try to get the lure’s barbs out of his mouth, they were cut as well.
In his struggles, he’d become all tangled in fishing line and had a broken hind leg.
We gingerly placed him in an animal carrier and notified Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee that we were on our way. He cried in the backseat on the way.
When we arrived at the rehabilitation centre, everyone was ready.
They sedated him immediately and began cutting away the fishing line, using wire cutters to remove the hooks from his face and limbs. They set his broken leg, stitched him up and gave him some medication.
After four months of rehab, we received a call from the centre and on October 2, the little fox returned to Sandbanks. He was released back onto Cedar Sands Trail, finally back home where he belonged.
The big message here is how critical the “leave no trace” principle is to wildlife
The fishing line that injured the fox kit likely came from anglers who got stuck in the reeds on Outlet River, and cut their line. This fishing line (complete with barbed lure) washed up onshore, where it became a dangerous chew toy for a baby fox.
The heart of ecological integrity is the “naturalness” of an area. When ecological integrity is compromised by litter, natural species — including young foxes — are put at risk.