A Special Appeal to Norm Sterling, MPP for Lanark-Carleton
Just over four weeks old and weighing about a pound, the tiny fox was orphaned and in trouble. She was dehydrated and barely conscious when found last April but she was fortunate on one count. She was found on the property of Robbie McDonald, an experienced wildlife rehabilitator in Lanark who has been a volunteer with the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre for nine years.
Robbie brought the young fox to the Centre for a thorough check-up and to obtain the proper formula. The next three months were devoted to bringing the little fox back to health and to preparing her for her eventual release. It meant stuffing crickets and grasshoppers in logs in her large outdoor cage and introducing her to mice – all required staples in a fox diet.
It is not ideal to raise any young animal by itself but after several potential “buddies” received by the Centre did not survive, it became clear she would have to be raised alone. Robbie was not concerned, however, as she had raised other foxes and several, even with litter mates, had been on the friendly side. One such fox continued to return regularly for a few weeks after release but eventually the time between appearances grew longer. So, she was confident that this little fox, dubbed “Katie” would also revert to the wild with some “hacking” – better known as temporary or transitional care after release.
However, just one month before she was to be released, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) seized Katie because it had, without justification and without notice, expanded the raccoon rabies high-risk zone. It didn’t seem to matter that the little fox was fully vaccinated against rabies and that Robbie had received a letter the day before stating that she had until the end of the week to choose whether she wished to release the animal where found, her property in this case, or to surrender it.
Naturally, Robbie would have chosen to release the fox rather than see it taken to a MNR research facility but she was given no choice in the matter. MNR officers in flak jackets and wearing guns were an intimidating presence for a woman trying to protect a young fox. Katie was taken although she should not have been and even then there was no reason, other than to be mean, not to have released her on Robbie’s property a month later when she was due to be released.
Instead, they have kept this fox by herself in solitary confinement for 9 months now – a cruel and senseless punishment for any animal born to be free. And now, after creating the problem, the MNR says the fox is too “tame” to survive in the wild and that they will place her in an “educational” facility. This is unacceptable. Placing a “tame” wild animal in an “educational” facility only reinforces the message that wild animals make good pets – something any responsible or progressive wildlife agency should be strongly opposed to.
The MNR have admitted they know nothing about wildlife rehabilitation. Robbie McDonald does and we are confident that after a few weeks in her old cage on that property and with Robbie’s experienced guidance, Katie can be successfully released to live a free life in the wild.
The MNR must give Katie the chance they took away from her. If you agree, call Norm Sterling at (613) 253-1171 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know that you want this fox to be given that chance and ask for a response. Visit http://www.wildlifeontario.ca/ for the full story on the animals seized by the MNR and further email addresses to send your letters to.