My Mom lives in Florida and one of our favorite games to play on the phone is "Guess what's in the car?" This is a result of me transporting various critters of all species and sizes around the state for rehab, release or placement.
Mom guessed yesterday's quiz after only two questions. Way to go Mom! The answer was four Red Fox kits on their way back to the wild.
The view from my rearview mirror yesterday was priceless: A large kennel cab with three pairs of pointy ears as three of the four young red fox kits I was transporting peered out the back window, much to the utter delight of my surrounding commuters. (have to admit that it took me a bit to figure out what all the people, especially kids, were smiling and pointing to as they went by...)
Fortunately for those commuters, I did not take a photo from that angle, but here's one from the rear of the car with the tailgate open. I can only imagine how cute they looked standing on their rear legs against the gated door looking out the window.
For those of you who have been involved in a wild animal release, you know that they are highly unpredictable. They are, after all, WILD animals.
Yesterday's release was no exception. We opened the large kennel door first and one of the three immediately bolted and disappeared north into the forest. The single one came out next and kind of hung around while the second fox from the large kennel braved a mad dash into the woods. We had to tilt and pretty much force the third fox kit out of the kennel, at which point it wandered off after the first two, while the single kit headed west.
After making sure they weren't going to re-appear, we packed up the kennel and drove away. Not five minutes later the single kit appeared trotting down the gravel road, heading south onto our neighbor's property. Best laid plans, right?
We stopped to make sure it wouldn't return to the road and our neighbor took the opportunity to approach us and ask if it was a fox he'd just seen. That conversation then evolved into a discussion on releasing fox near his land because he has chickens. (good for the fox, bad for the neighbor, I'm rooting for the fox)
After explaining that this is prime habitat for fox: hundreds of acres of open farmland mixed with large stands of hardwoods, and that there already are fox and coyote in the area, he proceeded to tell us that his neighbor's dogs had killed two of his chickens last week. And he's worried about a fox kit.
Isn't part of having free-range chickens in a rural, farm setting acknowledging that you'll have predation loss? How do you move to one of the few rural farm communities still within the Metro area, and not realize the environment into which you're moving?
I'd rather see a fox or coyote, part of the natural predation cycle, take chickens that a neighbor's dog.
Personal rants aside, the release was fun to watch and it's a lifetime experience to see these beautiful animals return to their native habitat.