Today’s title is my personal tribute to the lasting memory of Mitch Hedburg…
I was outside gardening today with my aunt, doing things I have never done before. We potted tomato plants out on the deck and watered flowers around the house. I am not much of a gardener. Never have I even successfully been able to care for a plant indoors, never mind outside in nature. The TV news advertising upcoming local stories stoked my paranoid tendencies. Somewhere in Connecticut a small boy had been bitten by a wild fox.
Logging onto the website of the local news station, I tried in vain to find the story. I wanted to assess the risks I was undertaking in the garden. Nature carries many risks, and fox bites are a profound risk. The local news website carried many leads, however I was unable to find the breaking news story advertised on TV. This did contribute further to my paranoia. Luckily, I did root out some information. Seems today was not the first time someone in ole CT was fox bitten.
Last summer Janet Hill was in her yard, doing yardwork and gardening. There were two foxes in the neighborhood, who would come around “like clockwork.” These were red foxes. Red the color of blood, flowing from the bitemark of the ferocious fox. Red the color of mud, sometimes, when mud is not brown because of sediments. The poor woman didn’t even see it coming, and the red fox had contracted the rabies.
“I did not see the fox. I did not hear the fox. All of a sudden I got this sharp pain in the back of my leg,” she said. The fox, it seemed, had bit her. She did not see or hear the fox. But it bit her leg, and because she had no tools with her, Janet Hill had no weapons to wield against the red fox. The fox held on, then it let go. It scurried three maybe four feet away, and growled. Disturbed and more than a little worried about gardening, I sifted through the vast information available.
Then I read this news item from the UK. “I had one client who woke early one morning to find a fox chasing her cat around the dining room, having got in through the catflap. Foxes are becoming braver in what they will look for as prey.” The fox, it seems, had entered the house through the catflap. No foxflap was found.
Solutions to the problem was where my roving eye next focused. Trained as a youth as a Future Problem Solver, my natural tendency is to look at the problems in the world and brainstorm solutions. In terms of fox hunts, the Main Solution seemed pretty obvious: packs of hounds working together with terriers. Again, the British are on the cutting edge. Here is part of a transcript from Parliament:
“Dr. MacDonald of Oxford university calculated that half the foxes killed by hunts were slaughtered not by the hounds, but by terriers that were sent underground to pursue the foxes when they sought refuge. The terriers drive the fox out of the refuge or keep it occupied while humans dig it out. Even the official hunts have acknowledged that that practice must be tightened.
Those who take part in such activities boast about the horrific injuries suffered by the dogs in the subterranean battle between fox and terrier. In a report from that earnest journal, The Sunday Telegraph, Adam Nicolson described his day out with the Blencathra fox hounds:
“From above ground we could hear the terrible fighting below us, the screaming of dog and fox was only partly muffled by the layers of earth and rock that separated us from it. The noise moved for about 10 minutes . . . and then went quiet. The huntsman, the whipper-in and the followers stood listening in silence . . . Then the huntsman said, ‘All right, that’s us then’ and headed back downhill. It was just before nine in the morning.’But what about your dog?’ I said to the terrier man as we walked down. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘that’s all right, it’ll either be dead and the fox will be eating it or the fox will be dead and she’ll be eating the fox. Don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll be back home in a couple of days, once she’s slept the whole thing off.’”
I am most concerned by the attitude of the Wildlife Network. In its submission to the debate, it says that unorganised terrier work should be stopped, but that the same activity is okay when conducted by the official hunt. Clearly, points of principle and consistency do not wash with the Wildlife Network. In addition, it wants terriers to go underground and only bark at the fox, not bite it.”
Horrible, horrible. Seems that these terriers are just as murderous as any rabid fox, and the hounds are complicit. Therefore, I discarded my Main Solution on the basis that I do not believe in mistreating animals, wild or domestic, with other animals. The whole issue of whether the terrier barks or bites at the fox seems silly. If I was a terrier in a foxhole I’d try seduction. Gives a whole new meaning to “be back back home in a couple days, once he’s slept the whole thing off.”
My new Main Solution to the foxing versus gardens problem is to wear the shiny green gloves my aunt bought for me. As far as anti-fox armor, that should do the trick. Now for the post-script:
In my research for this post, I also came across many news articles detailing bear sightings in the state of Connecticut. As a parting shot, one of hope and uplift, I’d like to share just such a clipping out of Hamden…
“A 200-pound black bear browsed through a Hamden neighborhood Tuesday, bringing residents out of their homes to catch a peek at the furry visitor. It was an unusual sight for this urban block.
The bear eventually climbed a tree, spurred on by barking dogs and rubber bullets from DEP officers. Officers tranquilized it and lowered it with ropes. It will be examined by the DEP and relocated. The agency said it does not normally tranquilize and relocate bears unless they are a nuisance or in a heavily populated area.
On Tuesday, the bear capture captivated the neighborhood. Some residents said they hoped the bear would not be injured in the process. They were glad to see it all end safely as the bear was lowered to the ground.
“They all clapped,” neighbor Danielle D’Angelo told WTNH-TV. “Everybody was excited.”