Seven foxes safe, fate of another unknown

Kits trapped in Port by company working for condo residents are settling into temporary home at wildlife center that is planning forum ‘so this doesn’t happen again’

ONE OF SEVEN red fox kits trapped in Port Washington peered out of a large outdoor enclosure at Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in the Town of Saukville Monday. Well cared for by their mother before they were taken from her, the foxes are in good health and will be released into the wild this summer, the center’s hospital manager said. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Seven red fox pups that were trapped on the north end of downtown Port Washington and taken from their mother, causing public outrage last week, are settling into their new, temporary surroundings at a wildlife center in the Town of Saukville.

But the fate of one of the pups, or kits, that presumably avoided capture but hasn’t been seen since shortly after its siblings were taken earlier this month by a  Mequon animal control company hired by one or more residents living near the fox den is unknown.

The kit may have been taken away by its mother, said Kristen Bustamante, hospital manger for Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which is caring for the foxes.

Or, if the kit strayed from the den, its mother may have left on her own, leaving the 3-month-old pup to fend for itself.

Another member of the remarkable nine-kit litter was found dead of unknown causes near its den, Bustamante said last week.

Of the seven foxes that are now living in outdoor enclosures at Pine View, Bustamante said this week, “They look so good because they were so well cared for by their mother. They’re just immaculate.”

She said she hopes to be able to release the kits into the wild in July.

At the same time Pine View, which had no role in trapping the foxes but accepted them after they were captured by Advanced Wildlife Control of Mequon, is caring for the foxes, its executive director, Jeanie Lord, is planning to hold a program in conjunction with Ozaukee Press on coexisting with wildlife in Port Washington.

“Education is critical so this doesn’t happen again,” she said. “We will provide facts and data from wildlife biologists, not emotions. We’ll break down the misperceptions and talk about how we can coexist with wildlife.”

The forum, Lord said, will likely be held in late summer or early fall.

The story of the Port Washington foxes, which had gained a degree of internet fame with their playful antics on St. Mary’s Hill before being captured on private condo property across Wisconsin Street from the church, is a cautionary tale of the damage humans can do when they are misinformed and unwilling to abide the wildlife living among them, experts said.

“It’s just a really sad story,” Bustamante said.

Foxes, which are not uncommon in urban areas where there is ample food and fewer predators, have no interest in humans, don’t cause house damage and are unlikely to confront house pets unless their young are threatened, Bustamante said.

In fact, they are considered beneficial urban dwellers because as adept hunters they are proficient at controlling mice and rat populations.

“This is all about a lack of understanding of foxes and the benefits of them,” Bustamante said. “They don’t eat children, they don’t damage houses and I don’t even know of an instance of them going after pets as prey.”

In addition, the foxes in downtown Port weren’t there to stay and would have moved on after getting their kits on their feet.

“I think people see these foxes and think, ‘Oh no, our neighborhood is going to be overrun,’” Bustamante said. “They were only going to be there temporarily before moving on. You just wish people could somehow find a way to cohabitate with them for a few months.”

If there’s a bright side to the story, it’s that the public was generally outraged by the trapping of the kits.

“Our phones have been ringing off the hook and social media has blown up,” Lord said. “That’s good, but there is still ignorance out there, and that’s why education is so important.”

After Ozaukee Press published a story last week on the trapping of the kits, one woman wrote on Facebook, “How horrible! They are no threat to humans but a necessary part of the ecosystem. Shame on those self-centered complainers.”

Another wrote, “This is heartbreaking. They were minding their own business. I don’t understand why we have to take these poor, innocent animals away. They weren’t hurting anyone.”


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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