Last week, three fox kits believed to be orphaned were brought to a wildlife centre in southern Saskatchewan.
The skulk was found near the city of Weyburn, and was later taken to Salthaven Wildlife West, an animal rescue and education centre in Regina. Unfortunately the person who brought the fox kits into the centre may have done more harm than good. Megan Lawrence, the director of rehabilitation at Salthaven, told CBC News that this was likely an abduction rather than a rescue.
Lawrence guesses these kits were about 10 weeks old when they were brought in, which is right around the time they start playing outside the den on their own, while their parents hunt for food.
“Often people will come across them and [think] that they’ve been orphaned or abandoned when that’s not the case,” she told CBC.
According to reports, these fox kits were in the care of the person who found them for about a week before they decided to call for help. During that time, they also tried to feed the fox kits, but because they weren’t being given the proper amount of food, they were quite weak when they were brought to the shelter.
Lawrence said that because the kits have already been away from their parents for so long, they weren’t able to reunite them, and it will be a long time before they can be safely released into the wild again. Salthaven will have the kits for about a week before transferring them to another wildlife facility with larger enclosures, where they’ll stay for about six months.
Under normal conditions, the fox kits would have spent all summer with their parents, who would have taught them how to hunt. Lawrence told CBC that rehab centres do their best to mimic those conditions, which is why they keep them for the same amount of time as they would be with their parents.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of well-intentioned but misguided people who do exactly what this person did, especially with mammals like rabbits and deer, which are left alone at a very young age. According to Salthaven’s website, baby bunnies and fawns are often left alone during the day, sometimes for six to 12 hours at a time. And even though you may never see them, their mothers will return periodically to feed them.
If you find a baby animal on its own, the best thing to do is call your local Ministry of Natural Resources or an authorized wildlife rehabilitator and discuss the issue with them before intervening.