Fox with mange sparks reports of strange animal in Port


THIS FOX, which likely has mange, was photographed near St. Mary’s Church last month. Photo by Mike Bultman
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

A fox with what appears to be a serious case of mange has been sighted throughout Port Washington in recent weeks.

One woman called police to say she walked out of her door to find “this strange looking animal” in her yard, Captain Mike Keller said.

“There have been sightings throughout the city,” he said, noting officers have reported seeing the animal in Upper Lake Park. “It hasn’t bothered anyone.”

He saw the fox on Norport Drive recently, Keller said, and initially did a double take because the animal “doesn’t look like a fox.”

“The coat is so infected,” he said, noting the fox’s tail isn’t bushy and its coat is discolored.

Mike Bultman said he saw the fox near St. Mary’s Church on Sept. 16, in the middle of a hot day.

“I looked out the (car) window and there he stood in a yard, just looking at me,” he said. “He didn’t move. He just stayed right where he stood.”

Bultman said he took a couple pictures of the animal, then went home. About 7 p.m. that night, when he was returning to his home on Dodge Street, the fox was walking down a sidewalk in front of his home.

“He took off down Milwaukee Street and the other streets in the area,” Bultman said.

The animal wasn’t aggressive, he said.

“It sat there and just scratched its ear. It wasn’t growling or anything,” Bultman said. “It looked like it was struggling. It looked kind of mangy.”

Officers contacted the game warden, who identified the animal as a fox with mange, Keller said.

He’s spoken to someone who is willing to try and live trap the animal and take it to Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in the Town of Fredonia, where it could be treated.

“The mange isn’t going to go away without treatment,” Keller said. “This animal definitely needs help.”

“Unless there’s intervention, they die,” Pine View Executive Director Jean Lord said.

She said mange has become an issue in recent years, noting the fox population in the county has drastically decreased over the past five years.

Sarcoptic mange is a skin disease caused by parasitic mites that burrow into the skin of animals. 

“Once they have mange, they will go to where they can find shelter and food,” Lord said.

By the time the mites get to the animal’s face, it can’t see or find food and water, she said.

“We’re talking two to four weeks before it’s debilitating,” Lord said, noting a fox believed to have mange was recently found dead under a shed in Grafton. 

Mange can be devastating to the fox population, Lord said, noting the animals only have a lifespan of two to four years under normal circumstances.

She cautioned people to avoid taking their dogs to areas where fox with mange are seen, noting it spreads easily.

Live trapping the animal so it can be treated is the fox’s best chance, Lord said.

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