Thursday morning, before drinking my first cup of coffee, I spied a fox frolicking in the grass - then another. A baby? The little one was romping and jumping while the large fox watched attentively. I poured my cup of coffee, so excited to see the smaller of the two running in my direction. I grabbed my iPhone to capture the cuteness. It looked like it was carrying something in its mouth. A ball?
What appeared to be a ball from the distance turned out to be a white plastic container and his little head was stuck in it.
My heart fell. I watched the mother (I assume), pacing, trying to corral him as he ran into things – rocks in the middle of the manicured lawn, a small tree trunk, a curb.
I grabbed the phone and called 911. Sorry, it was my instinct.
“What’s your emergency?’
I apologized and explained that I was fine and no human was hurt but a fox in front of my home was in distress – his head was stuck in a container. I went on to ask for the right number or department to call. The dispatcher was kind and supportive and actually took down all of my details explaining I would likely hear from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department. Her final remarks: “Whatever you do, don’t try to help. If that’s his mother, she could attack.”
I was alone and felt completely hopeless. So I grabbed my coffee, my keys and got in the car. I decided to move to the entrance of the complex so that if they fled I could at least point the Wildlife department in the right direction. I watched from my car for about 45 minutes. The little one was wandering but staying within the site.
While I sobbed.
The sun was fully up and activity increased as my neighbors began to drive off, each to begin their workday. I lost sight of the fox. I drove around the small area and confirmed that they were, in fact, nowhere to be seen.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife department officer arrived at 9 a.m. – two and a half hours after I first phoned. The fox were long gone. We scouted the area and found several dens. One was conveniently located about ten feet from a garbage bin – discovered when we followed the trail of trash directly to the hideaway. The officer handed me her card. I tried to thank her but found myself unable to speak - my throat was tight and tears were imminent. I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. She looked uncomfortable but was kind and told me to call her anytime.
I woke up early the next morning on fox watch. No sign of them. Same result the following morning.
We went away for the weekend and returned during a surprisingly wicked spring snowstorm.
I typically see fox at dusk, or, in the winter, during an early morning snowfall. At twilight Sunday, amidst the white dusting mixed with rain, a small fox darted through our back yard toward the open space across the street. A beautiful fox with a head covered in nothing but fur. I choose to believe that he was my little friend, free. Because I can’t bear to consider the alternative
1. I’m bitterly reminded of just how dangerous our trash is to animals. We need to clean things up.
2. Gary Smith of the The Thinking Vegan messaged me a link to Animal Help Now, which happens to serve Colorado (and beyond). You can bet I’ve bookmarked the site (and downloaded the app). Also check out a primer from PETA on dealing with Wildlife Emergency.