Fugitive fox finished off
Mike Thomas/Yukon News
Conservation officers were forced to put down a fox this morning.
The animal had been on the run for more than 10 days after getting caught in a leghold trap.
Conservation officers laid the trap in a back yard in the Logan subdivision after getting complaints about foxes in the area.
When the animal was captured, there was a delay in alerting conservation officers. The fox was able to work the trap out of its moorings and escape, taking the trap with it.
“We were supposed to get a call right away but we didn’t,” said conservation officer Ken Knutson. “We had an equipment failure, so it got away.
“We’re not very happy about it, but these things happen.”
By the time the fox was finally captured yesterday, its leg was in pretty bad shape, he said.
Though leghold traps are padded and designed not to cut off circulation, they’re not meant to be dragged around for more than a week.
“It was pretty gross,” said Knutson. “(The wound) was putrefying and it was down to the bone.”
After he netted the animal last night, Knutson put it in a cage for the veterinarian to examine this morning.
“It was not going to be recoverable so we euthanized it,” he said.
Every year there are issues with foxes in the Logan subdivision, said Knutson. According to his estimate, there are about 15 foxes in the area.
“If people will tolerate them and they’re not causing any problems then we just leave them,” he said. “Once they come into conflict, and people aren’t comfortable with them then we have to do something.
“That’s part of our public safety mandate.”
Options for capturing foxes are pretty limited, he said. Leghold traps are pretty much the best bet.
Often foxes are too cautious to fall for the full cage boxtraps that dog catchers use, and tranquilizing them can prove difficult.
“We can’t free range them with our dart guns because if you miss, then you have to find the dart, and if you get them, the drug doesn’t take effect right away,” said Knutson. “If you’ve seen foxes they’re pretty quick, and they can cover a lot of ground before you catch up with them.
“If you lose sight of them, they’re so small, if it went to sleep you might not find it.”
With people living in such close proximity to the wilderness, and with garbage such a rich food source, human animal conflicts are all but inevitable, said Knutson.
Usually conservation officers try to relocate the animals, but this time it wasn’t possible.
“Sadly, in this case, it’s our fault that this happened,” he said.
It’s not a complete waste, though.
The territory’s wildlife veterinarian will be taking some samples of the fox’s brain tissue to test for rabies.
There haven’t been any cases of rabies in the Yukon but it has been seen recently in other parts of the North, said Knutson.
“They’re monitoring now for rabies in the territory and foxes are notorious for having it,” he said.