Orphaned foxes returned to wild in East Wareham

By Matthew Bernat | Sep 08, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat A gray fox briefly surveys its surroundings before making a run for the woods. The pup and three others, who were all orphaned in June, were among 50 wild animals sent back into the wild on Friday.

One fox pup bolted immediately.

Another stepped out of the animal carrier and eyed the curious humans watching its every move. Then it ran, too.

The third waited a moment inside, unsure, then joined its siblings in a furry flash, ready to hunt and run in a heavily wooded area of East Wareham.

Orphaned several months ago after their mother was struck by a car, the gray foxes were among 50 wild animals released Friday with help from the Wareham Land Trust and Department of Natural Resources. All the animals were rehabilitated this summer at the Cape Wildlife Center.

“Today came, and they’re clearly ready to go,” said Courtney Sepeck, an intern at the New England Wildlife Center in Weymouth after the pups were set free.

Friday’s mass release marked a first for the Barnstable-based Cape Wildlife Center, which was on the brink of closing last year.

When the news broke, a variety of organizations and supporters stepped forward to save the center. Previously run by the Humane Society of the United States, the center is now operated through a partnership between the Pegasus Foundation, the Friends of Cape Wildlife and the New England Wildlife Center.

Margi O’Neill, a volunteer at the center and member of the Friends of Cape Wildlife Board of Directors, said so far this year the center has cared for 1,522 sick, injured and orphaned animals.

“In six months, we’ve already surpassed the number of animals we cared for during all of last year,” said Margi.

The three fox pups were among those animals, living in the center’s outdoor enclosure since June after being transferred from Weymouth.

Sepeck cared for the foxes initially. A farmer in Scituate called the center after finding the mother dead by the side of the road. Rehabilitation included time in the center’s enclosure, allowing the pups to remain wild and practice skills they’d need, such as hunting, once released. All the animals were also vaccinated.

When the time came to find the pups a a new home, center officials turned to the Wareham Department of Natural Resources and the Wareham Land Trust.

Officials settled on a spot deep in the pine barrens of East Wareham for its seclusion and water sources.

Driving down a bumpy, sandy road, Department of Natural Resources Director Garry Buckminster transported the foxes in the back of a pick up truck with wildlife and land trust officials in tow.

Buckminster said the department was glad to participate in the release, settling on the Wareham location after an initial one was nixed due to concerns from local birders.

Wareham Land Trust Treasurer Nancy McHale said her organization was happy to recommend the Wareham release site, which was located on Land Trust property.

“It’s an excellent example of cooperation among several different groups,” said McHale.

One pup immediately bolts after Courtney Sepeck opens the carrier door. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
Wareham Land Trust member Kathy Pappalardo and Wareham Department of Natural Resources Director Garry Buckminster wait as wildlife officials prepare the foxes for release. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Sep 12, 2017 15:26

What does the fox say? I'm going to eat your cats like candy and small dogs like cheeseburgers. Burp!

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Sep 12, 2017 19:04

Nice thing about foxes is they eat field mice, which are part of the whole Lyme/tick cycle.  As coywolves (which are too hoity-toit to eat mice) and developers (ditto) run foxes off their turf, more mice survive, hosting more ticks, which then feast on more people.


You can dump orphan foxes in my woods any day!

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