I am writing in response to Protect Our Wildlife’s ad depicting the young red fox who suffered terribly, and later died, due to injuries sustained in a leghold trap. As a conservation biologist, I am concerned about the lack of factual information about the important role predators, like this unfortunate fox, play in our ecosystems and the reprehensible lack of protections for wildlife due to ineffective, badly conceived, or vague existing regulations. Vilifying and labeling a variety of species as “nuisances” and allowing just about anyone to kill these animals, for just about any reason, all year long, defies any sort of responsible or professional approach to wildlife management.
The fox pictured in the ad was trapped in Vermont in an attempt to catch an unknown “nuisance” animal who had been trying to access a chicken coop. The trap was not set properly and the fox was seen over a period of several days dragging the attached leghold trap from its maimed leg. When the animal was finally captured by a game warden – in large part thanks to POW’s diligence – she had to be euthanized due to the extent of her injuries. There is absolutely no way to know if this was the same animal who was after the property owner’s chickens. It may have been this fox, or another who is still alive (or perhaps it was a raccoon!) This animal, a young female, might have had a den of kits who would have subsequently starved to death when she was trapped. Her suffering and painful death was a complete waste.
Sadly, there is little effort by the F&W Department to educate the public about the remarkably important role predators, like the fox, play in maintaining the natural world we all inhabit. Foxes, along with coyotes and opossums, help control the burgeoning tick population that is responsible for the growing public health crisis connected to tick borne diseases. A great portion of a fox’s diet consists of mice, the hosts for deer ticks. Throughout the year, they consume rodents and small mammals, protecting farmers from losses associated with rodent infestations. In addition, foxes disperse the seeds of native plant speciesÉimportant due to the proliferation of non-native invasive plants. We desperately need these animals in our neighborhoods and ecosystems and I sincerely believe the majority of Vermonters want to treat wildlife with compassion and respect.
I am thrilled to see this ad and hope that others will support Protect Our Wildlife. They are Vermont’s only wildlife watchdog group. According to a recent poll conducted by UVM’s Center for Rural Studies, 75% of Vermonters would like to see trapping banned. Let’s make our voices heard and change Vermont into a more humane place for wildlife.