Depressing story

I know this probably has no place on this forum, and for that, I apologize.
But I have to get this off my chest, because I’ve been depressed all day over it.
I keep several traps in my yard for squirrels, rabbits, possums, and racoons,
but this morning I found the most unusual looking fox in one of the large
traps. I bait all of my traps with decaying fruit, and I’ve never heard of foxes eating
fruit, but this one sure did. He had tried to destroy two of the smaller traps,
but was obviously too big to get inside them. This is exactly the kind of animal
that I want to encourage to roam my property, since it is a natural predator of
the varmints that I try to trap.
I’ve never seen a more unusual or beautiful looking fox. He had a grayish black
tail, red face and legs, and pure white under belly. I called the wildlife service and explained the situation, and they basically told me it was my problem, and they don’t handle these situations. They wouldn’t send someone out to rescue the animal. nor would they let me bring it to them so they could release it into the wild. They don’t do those things.
So I asked them, what the heck do you do? And they said they don’t rescue wild animals. I’d have to dispose of the animal myself. What if I took the animal into the woods and released it , and it turned around
and bit me and I might possibly contract rabies. The response was that was the risk I’d have to take.
What the heck is the wildlife department for, if they ignore animals like this. Why am I paying tax dollars to support a bunch of bureaucrats that could care less about wildlife?
Then I called animal control, but they only handle cats and dogs, so I called my exterminator. He doesn’t extract animals, but gave me the name of a company that does. So I called them and they would come
out and do a cage to cage exchange for $100. Then I asked them, if they would release the animal back into the wild, and after some hesitation, I was told that they would try. I could read in between the lines, they will charge me $100 to come get the animal and destroy it.
I knew then that no one was going to help this poor animal, and unless I wanted to risk getting bitten and possibly contracting rabies, I’d have to destroy it myself. I’m ashamed to say, that’s what I did, and I’ve been sick about all day. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

Oh, Ray, I feel really badly for you. Sounds like you trapped a Gray or Forest fox. They are very pretty, and a little smaller than your Red fox. They’re omnivores, so, if the opportunity presents, they will eat fruit. They are very beautiful.

We had them in Columbia, MD, and we saw one that must have lived back in the woods behind our home. We saw him/her frequently in the early morning, if we left for work particularly early.

I, too, have caught beneficial animals in my traps. The last one I caught was a Spotted weasel, and boy, was it pissed off. I was able to set my trap out in my field behind my house and string about 20’ of cord to the release handle, and then stand behind my gate and pull the trap open. It rain out like greased lightening. I had the opening placed away from me, and it rain the opposite direction from me. Is there any way you can pull your traps open from a distance using cord or rope?

This year I have caught 8 squirrels, a Raccoon, A house cat , and a Cardinal.
What in the world the cat saw in my ear of field corn is beyond me.
Yes, I let the cat go and I can tell you it was MAD. but it also went the other way like

It is surprisingly difficult to release a wild animal from a trap, and as you recognize, can be dangerous. While I understand your angst, I think that you probably made the right decision given the choices you had.

My Little Giant trap makes it hard to release from a distance, but I think Hoosierquilt has a good idea. Sad to have lost a good animal, but sad also to overlook the chance to learn something here. Makes me realize that I need to allow for that possibility too. I do not want to take chances with a weasel!

Thanks for bringing this up; difficult as it was, I’m glad you did.

Dang, Ray! I think our DNR field staff seem to focus on hunting and fishing and enforcing those laws. The offices are understaffed.

Did anyone in any of your calls refer you to the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation station right down the road here? It’s next to Saluda Shoals Park on Bush River Rd. I’ve captured and taken possums and raccoons to them. There’s no charge, but they do ask if you’d like to make a donation. Their phone number is 772- 3994.

There are also coyotes in the area. If you ever misadventure of capturing one, I hope you treat it as the invasive threat that they are.

Chances are very, very small that the unfortunate fox carried rabies, but treat the remains as though it did. We have, in the past, had human cases at the main local hospital, and the outcome once symptoms are enough for them to seek attention is not good.

I realize you aren’t asking for advice and I’m truly sorry for your experience, but if you don’t want to repeat this, buy traps with safety sliding doors in back. You could have even figured out a way to free the animal with a string pulling the door open with you safely in your car or whatever. They are somewhat more expensive, but even when you catch something you kill it makes it so much easier to slide it out. Gempler’s carries them. Every time I accidentally trap a skunk I’m happy for the easy release.

I had to dispatch a red fox once that had a severely broken front leg and wouldn’t leave the yard of a day care. I hated to do it but sometimes you just end up in situations where you don’t have many options. my wife knows a lady that got bit by a monkey on a cruise and has had to take all kinds of shots and medicine for a year to try and get rid of the nasty stuff she caught from it. Better safe than sorry when dealing with your health.

I wish there was a way to easily release my traps, but they are very solid,
and the rear door has to be pulled up by hand.

When I took the wildlife in to the rescue station, I took them inside the traps and they removed them there. I brought my traps home.

Nobody I talked to ever mentioned such a place, which is very surprising. I even scoured
the phone book and the internet and found nothing. Thanks for the info. I’ll remember it,
if this ever happens again. I’ve seen coyotes in my yard and was amazed at how big they
are. I would not want to tangle with one of those things.

Surprising, but also frustrating, since it’s probably closer to your home than any of the offices you called.

Next time you travel towards the dam, look for their sign on the left side of the street right before you get to Saluda Shoals. It’s on a small lot with trees between the road and the building. Just a dirt and gravel drive and small parking lot in front of an unpretentious building and a small sign by the road.

Interesting unrelated note - They like donations of beeswax and propolis for mending turtle shells.

Muddy already solved your problem in another way. Wildlife activists will generally go the extra mile to save a desirable animal and many communities have vets that are part of the network.

The sliding door in back can be greased a bit and if the trap was staked or tied down you could probably pull the doors open with a strong piece of string- unless they are really bent out of shape. I used to release wild animals out of my traps all the time, but felt adequately safe with heavy leather gloves if the animal looked clear eyed and healthy. Those big male raccoons snarl like killers when you approach the cage but run like hell upon release. I no longer release them, however.

I still believe you did the right thing and only mention these things to suggest possible alternatives to feeling so bad. The fox was out of territory and what you did was the most merciful thing anyway. They reproduce enough to more than fill available wild spaces and there will always be a spilling over where surplus animals search for food wherever they can get it. If you hadn’t killed it, it probably would have ended up dead on the side of the road during a futile search for open country not already fully inhabited by fox and/or coyotes. This is probably why the official wildlife people didn’t want to help you.

By growing fruit on your land that would otherwise be nothing but turf you are indirectly creating more land for the fox tribe and other wildlife. Every time we buy food we are paying for wilderness destruction.


Another approach might be to use an electric fence around your fruit trees and bushes. Animals eat a wide variety of food. I’m sorry because I do love foxes. When we are picking blackberries we occasionally have things eating blackberries growl when we get to close such as badgers or coyotes etc… We have no desire to hurt them so I just planted more than we could eat of everything so we all have plenty. Kansas land is cheap unlike many locations generally just two-five thousand for good land and much less for land with very little water. If it’s an option to plant more I would but otherwise the electric fence will work without killing them.


I feel for you because, like yourself, I like foxes.

I don’t know if your traps are like mine, but a couple years ago I caught a fox in a havaheart. I opened the door and the animal bolted out.

I’ve killed skunks rather than release them for fear of getting sprayed, but the next one I catch I’m going to try to release also, probably wearing a rain jacket and a hood as an extra precaution :smile:

I’m sorry things went so difficult for you. It sounds like you really went to a lot of effort to get the authorities involved, but to no avail. That can be so frustrating when you are trying to do the right thing.

FYI, here’s what my fox looked like:

:cry: You did what you had to do at the time. xxoo

I felt kind of nervous just before letting a Raccoon loose from a trap a year or two ago.The animal had broke the carrying handle off from the inside and so I had to pick the trap up vertically,with it lunging at me from the suspended bottom.My neighbor helped and we drove about 5 miles away.I made a primitive hook tool out of a coat hanger,duct taped to a stick.We kind of joked as to who might get my valuables in case I didn’t survive the release.But,like the other stories here,as I stayed at the closed end of the trap and as soon as the door opened,that Coon scrambled the other way.They are definitely very afraid and realize we have the upper hand.So,to see a chance to escape without confrontation,they will most likely take it. Brady

Unless, of course, the animal is rabid.

Most of the time, all the mercy in releasing a trapped animal is to the releaser and not the released according to wildlife experts. Raccoon used to be hunted for their pelts so releasing them in a wildlife area might work out well because the population was being culled on a regular basis. We’ve eliminated most of their predatory pressure and provide them nearly unlimited food so their main population reducer when numbers get out of hand is disease. Every couple of decades their is a rabbis epidemic around here that does a fine job in radically reducing their numbers for a time. If you own any kind of firearm I think it is best to kill them.

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And in most areas it is illegal to trap and relocate wildlife .

I’ve probably never come across an animal with Rabies.Just for future reference,are there any obvious manifestations or behavior that identifies the disease?A few movies that I’ve seen,show maybe a dog acting kind of crazy and foaming around the mouth,but am not sure if that’s all there is. Brady