The mysterious looking fox that Nebraska City residents have been reporting for most of the summer has been captured and delivered to Wildlife Rescue.
Terry Olney, a volunteer for the Lincoln-based organization, said the fox is suffering from mange, a skin disease common to canines caused by several species of tiny mites.
“He's down and out right now. He's in ragged shape, but we started giving him medicine last night,” Olney said.
Olney said the fox has crusted ears and the mange has moved into its eyes. “He's not blind, but he has poor eyesight,” he said.
He said the fox woke from being tranquilized a little bewildered.
“He's pretty docile. He has not snapped at me or anything, but I'm sure he will get more aggressive as he comes around,” Olney said.
Russ Mort, game warden with Nebraska Game and Parks, commended Wildlife Rescue for its care of orphaned and treatable animals.
He said foxes and Nebraska City residents live together year after year, but sick animals begin to show up in the daytime.
The animals may not fend as well in the wild for food, so they are driven by hunger, and because they are sick, they begin to lose their fear of humans.
Mort said people should recognize that seeing a wild animal in the daytime is not normal and exercise caution to avoid contact and exposure to the animal.
As fall approaches, he said, a sick animal will be looking for any place to escape the elements, including garages.
Mort said people who leave pet food outside encourage wild animals looking for an easy meal.
Olney, who volunteered after seeing a card for Wildlife Rescue on a bulletin board at his veterinarian's office, said he has participated in the rescue of several possums and raccoons, but this is his first fox.
Typically, he said, when the animals are old enough to survive on their own their cage is left open. He said the orphans may come back for a meal or two after wandering off, but quickly find a new home in the wild.
He said a decision about the timing of the fox's release and a suitable release point will be made by his contacts with Wildlife Rescue.
Vikki Henry, corresponding secretary for Wildlife Rescue, said the fox may be with Olney through its recovery before it is moved to another wildlife volunteer outside of the city limits.
She said the organization, which cares for about 2,500 animals each year, is always looking for places that will allow wildlife releases.
Page 2 of 2 - When a suitable release location is found, she said the healthy fox will be let go similar to the other animals. Its cage will be left open and it will be free to explore.
Police darted the animal Wednesday and turned it over to the Nebraska City Street Department.
Public Properties Director Dan Giittinger said authorities have been chasing after the fox for a while because of frequent sightings from residents on the north end of town.