Islanders take fox mange matters into their own hands

A bunch of fox lovers on P.E.I. has began to manage medication to deal with foxes affected by sarcoptic mange.  

Fox Aid P.E.I. is encouraging Islanders to report sightings of sick foxes to its Facebook web page, so its volunteers can discover and deal with the sick animals. 

The small group of volunteers has been treating foxes on the Island for a few 12 months now and created the Facebook web page with the hope of extending their therapy throughout the Island.

“We wanted to do something to save what we could in the population of foxes in Prince Edward Island,” mentioned Paul Gauthier, with Fox Aid P.E.I.

Gauthier mentioned his group has handled greater than 100 foxes on the Island because it began. 

In a electronic mail a spokesperson with the Department of Environment mentioned the province lauded the group’s “genuine enthusiasm for the Island’s wildlife.”

However, the province additionally mentioned studies of mange are down this 12 months, and it does not consider there’s a long-term concern for the inhabitants of foxes on P.E.I. 

Treating foxes begins with monitoring behaviour

Sarcoptic mange is a illness attributable to a microscopic parasite — a mite — which burrows itself into floor layers of pores and skin inflicting the pores and skin to get itchy and irritated. It may end up in lack of hair, thickened crusty pores and skin and bald areas on the face and legs.

“Eventually over a three or four month period it will kill the fox if nothing is done for it,” mentioned Gauthier. 

Gauthier is an newbie wildlife photographer and has been photographing foxes for the previous six years on P.E.I.

“I’m a big time lover of foxes, which in turn makes it even harder to go out there now and see so many sick foxes and see so many that have already passed away,” he mentioned. 

Sarcoptic mange is a illness attributable to a microscopic parasite that burrows itself into floor layers of pores and skin inflicting the pores and skin to get itchy and irritated. (Submitted by Paul Gauthier)

Gauthier mentioned when somebody reaches out to the group reporting a sick fox, educated volunteers try to trace it down and administer therapy themselves by way of medicated bait.

The treatment is an over-the-counter model utilized by farmers to deal with cattle and sheep.

In an electronic mail assertion, the province mentioned it doesn’t encourage leaving medicated bait out within the open as a result of the medication might be poisonous to some breeds of canine and different animals. 

We don’t consider there may be any long-term concern for the fox inhabitants on P.E.I.— Department of Environment

Gauthier mentioned when a fox is noticed with mange, volunteers with Fox Aid P.E.I. study its habits and set the medication once they know the fox will likely be round.

Volunteers monitor the positioning till the fox leaves, and if it does not take the medication, it’s eliminated and put away till the fox returns to the world. 

“We’re just controlling, right now, what’s being treated because we want to do it properly,” he mentioned.

Hope for presidency partnership

Gauthier mentioned he hopes his group will ultimately type a partnership with the province that permits them to deal with foxes throughout the Island. 

“If we can have the government come on board with us then maybe we can set up some type of system where, oh I don’t know, we could be licensed to treat or something,” he mentioned. 

Gauthier mentioned his crew has had discussions with the province about what might be completed with the inhabitants of sick foxes on P.E.I. 

When a fox is noticed with mange, volunteers study its habits, set the medication and monitor the positioning till the fox leaves. If it doesn’t take the medication, it’s eliminated and put away till the fox returns to the world, says Gauthier. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Currently, the province doesn’t have a program to deal with foxes affected by mange. 

“While mange can be treated in individual animals, the department has been advised it cannot effectively provide population-wide treatment of foxes,” a spokesperson from the Department of Environment mentioned in an electronic mail. 

“Treated animals have no future immunity. They can become re-infected at den sites, which may prolong the problem.” 

Province not involved

“We do not believe there is any long-term concern for the fox population on P.E.I.,” the e-mail mentioned. 

The province mentioned studies of foxes with sarcoptic mange have fallen within the Charlottetown space this 12 months, although there are current studies from Summerside. The Department of Environment additionally mentioned it has a database of mange sightings that’s shared with wildlife veterinarians on the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative on the Atlantic Veterinary College.

Paul Gauthier has been taking images of foxes for six years. (Submitted by Paul Gauthier)

While it could be disturbing for Islanders to see foxes affected by mange and encourage them to assist, the province mentioned, Islanders should contemplate the reason for the illness. 

“Like other wildlife diseases, mange outbreaks typically result from overpopulation. In urban areas, overpopulation in red foxes is linked to artificial feeding, so the most effective strategy to limit future outbreaks is to avoid feeding foxes,” the Department of Environment mentioned within the electronic mail. 

The province mentioned it doesn’t view the treating of foxes as one thing that will violate the Wildlife Conservation Act, however urges warning be exercised when offering any therapy.

The province mentioned it’s going to proceed to evaluate alternatives to intervene and humanely euthanize foxes struggling the consequences of sarcoptic mange. 

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