Sunday, September 8, 2013

Blue Eyes

This afternoon, some friends found a dead fox along the neighborhood bike path we so often frequent. They quickly let us know, and Steph and I walked out to meet them there. Just past a stand of bracken ferns, resting upon bearberry and reindeer lichen and star moss, was a gray fox pup. The body had been there for at least a day: raindrops clung to its woolly summer fur — the abdomen was bloated — the visible eye was a ghostly, nearly luminescent blue.


Gray foxes are abundant in our area. After the death of the gray fox last December, I was afraid they'd be gone from the neighborhood for good, but thankfully that was not the case. In March we saw two sets of fox tracks, their paths crossing — Steph and I began finding fox scat in our driveway and later on the bike path — and then, this summer, we'd see them, both adults and pups, crossing that same path. Sometimes they paid us no heed; other times, they'd stop and stare, and we'd stop and stare right back at them.

This pup, likely one of the handful we observed this summer, died along the path.



Trailside Pup V

At first glance, no visible injuries appeared to be on the body, and the fox looked to have been in good health when she died. Her adult canines were just starting to poke through her gums; her claws were sharp, her fur — though the scraggly summer pelage — was still full and soft. I turned the body over, and it became apparent that the pup's pelvis was smashed, probably by the tire of a car. It's quite possible — and most likely — that she was hit on Main Street, not far from where the gray fox was hit last year. This pup dragged herself away from the road in what must have been an agonizing ordeal, only to collapse and die, several feet from the trail.

I hate to see foxes dead. They're a beautiful, fascinating, important part of the ecosystem, and it's heartbreaking to see their lives ended by the tire of a too-fast car. I am thankful, however, to have the opportunity to observe them — both in life and in death.

2 comments:

  1. Nice commentary, and it is sad to see such a beautiful animal come to a tragic end.

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  2. Terrific photos (particularly the second and third posted) and, as Mark wrote above, "nice commentary." Thank you for creating this blog. It's fast become one of my favorites.

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