HUDSON — A sickly fox seen in the daylight in Cedar Park Cemetery will be caught and treated for mange, a wildlife rehabilitator said Thursday.
The state Department Environmental Conservation investigated a report of a possible rabid fox in the city Tuesday in the vicinity of Cedar Park Cemetery after a resident notified Hudson police.
A DEC officer spoke with a number people at the cemetery and with cemetery staff who observed the animal. Based on the interviews, it does not appear the fox is rabid, but has a small patch of mange, according to a statement from the DEC.
State-licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator Missy Runyan, who also runs Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center Inc. based in Hunter, is working to trap and treat the fox.
Runyan, who has trapped and treated dozens of foxes with mange, observed the animal Tuesday and said it suffers from sarcoptic mange, which is common among foxes in the area.
Sarcoptic mange is a mite that causes foxes to have itching skin, but does not impact their behavior, except when it comes to hunting, Runyan said.
“They [the foxes] spend so much time scratching and not eating or doing what they should be doing, which causes them to hunt during the day,” she said. “Foxes with mange are often out during when there is less competition.”
The fox will be caught using a monitored box trap, Runyan said.
Once the fox is trapped, Runyan will take the fox to her clinic and will treat it with medication for a couple of weeks. After the fox’s skin is healed, it will be released back to its home in Hudson.
Runyan has been a wildlife rehabilitator for 14 years and has treated mange in coyotes, bears, and foxes from places as far north as Albany to as far south as Westchester.
“Foxes seem to take it [sarcoptic mange] the worst,” she said.
Sarcoptic mange exposes the foxes to a secondary infection via open sores or wounds, Runyan said.
Wildlife rehabilitators have recently rescued two foxes with mange in Hudson, Runyan said.
It’s possible humans have fed the fox, which has resulted in the animal losing its innate fear of humans, according to the DEC.
The department discourages feeding wildlife, as it causes more harm than good, according to the DEC website.
“As wild animals are fed, they become used to the presence of people,” according to the DEC website. “Animals like coyotes and black bears can become a potential threat and can harm both humans and pets. Animals may behave abnormally and have to be lethally removed if they are posing a threat. Additionally, more vehicle collisions may occur as deer are drawn closer to roads nearby homes.”
A fox in Hudson suffering from mange recently died from poor diet — not from the mange, Runyan said.
“Someone was leaving it a box of bagels,” she said. “One of the biggest killers is white flour. Birds die from it every day. Animals think they are full, but there are no nutrients they are used to and they starve to death with a full stomach.”
Two young foxes living near an apartment building in Germantown recently became ill after they were eating bowls of cheese left outside for them, Runyan said. It triggered digestive problems and the foxes suffered from diarrhea, she said.
People should not leave out food, garbage, pet food for their domestic animals or bird feeders in the summer, feral cats should only be fed in the daytime, she said, adding not to leave the food out overnight.
Foxes need to eat whole prey, such as rodents and rabbits, Runyan said.
“When they eat these animals, they eat the entire animal from the fur to everything the rabbit has eaten,” she said. “Those contain all nutrients they need to keep them [the foxes] alive. Without a whole prey diet, the first thing that suffers is your skin.”
The DEC continued patrols in the area Thursday to make sure there is no threat to public safety.
The public can contact the Wildlife Bureau about the sighting of a sick or diseased animal, according to the DEC’s website, via the bureau’s email: email@example.com. Submitting a photo with a description of the animal is helpful, according to the department.
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