Saving the Scarborough Bluffs foxes

A while back I received a call from a neighbour on my street saying that they had found a fox with mange.  That was when I first discovered how many of my fellow Torontonians loved our animal neighbours and were willing to go above and beyond to help them.

PHOTO: Ann Brokelman
PHOTO: Ann Brokelman

Together, the neighbour and I called the Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) and they sent over Andrew (rescue staff) and Chris (volunteer), who were able to catch the first fox in short order.

A few days later another young fox was spotted, this one also suffering from mange.  My neighbour, Irene, called TWC and a trap was set up in her back yard. While this sounds like an easy system, it turns out the ease with which the first fox was caught is quite rare. Every morning we had to get up before sunrise (really tough for me!), open the trap, and put in meat, under the specific guidance of the TWC. For the safety of the fox we took turns checking the trap at least four or five times a day.  Our first capture was a squirrel that was, to say the least, a little upset at being caught! We eventually captured the fox and a TWC employee named Alex came out to pick him up.

The poor animal was a mess. Mange had closed his eyes, eaten away at his ears and he was clearly starving to death.  While his chances of survival were slim, he made it through the first night at the shelter, and began the slow road to recovery. Within a few weeks the mange began to clear up.

Toronto Wildlife Centre volunteer Ron Paquette releases a fox back into the Bluffs area after it was treated for mange. Several foxes have been trapped, treated and released by volunteers. PHOTO: Ann Brokelman
Toronto Wildlife Centre volunteer Ron Paquette releases a fox back into the Bluffs area after it was treated for mange. Several foxes have been trapped, treated and released by volunteers. PHOTO: Ann Brokelman

Alex decided to leave the trap with us, just in case there were other foxes in trouble. Sure enough, within two weeks we had our third fox: a female adult, again full of mange.

Another day, at another part of the bluffs, I made two new friends in Norma and Al: amazing people who share my love of birds, nature and wildlife. I had been told by Cori, a friend from a local hawk watch, that she had seen a fox in that area, also suffering from mange. Though chances of finding the fox were slim, I drove there anyways and, with help from Norma and Al, complete strangers, was lucky enough to find the poor animal and help TWC capture it.

It takes a lot of people working together to help protect and save the animals in our community. Between Norma, Al, Irene, Ron, Wendy, Lyn, Jack, and the dedicated staff at the TWC, there are some very healthy foxes back on the Bluffs.

The Toronto Wildlife Centre in general, with help from staff like Alex and Andrew in particular, is an incredible organization that exists to protect our furry friends. Remember to call the TWC for advice.  Do not try to trap a wild, sick, or injured animal on your own!  For your safety, and the safety of the animal, call the TWC immediately. They will appreciate your call and might even let you participate in the care and release of the animal!

Mange is treatable. Don’t just turn your back and walk away from a sick or injured animal. Please visit or call TWC at 416-631-0662 and leave a message, for help and advice.

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I am such a huge fan of the Toronto Wildlife Centre and of the executive director, Nathalie Karvonen. (Volunteering at the centre is an extremely rewarding experience which I highly recommend.) The donations given directly impact the lives of the animals in their expert care, from little brown bats who make a lot of noise chewing when you feed them a mealworm with tweezers to majestic swans who trumpet loudly all the way along in your car.

Great article Ann – hopefully it will bring attention to this issue that may impact the lives of wildlife in the future.

Wonderful article! just goes to show that some time, effort and care can help animals in need. TWC is a fantastic center! Great job yet again to Andrew, Alex and the rest of the staff and thank you to the people who believe in the animals and take the time to call someone who will help them help the wild animals.

I used to volunteer for the TWC and I have learn a lot. They do an excellent job.
Thank you guys for your commitment and enthusiasm in saving the wildlife in Toronto.
: )

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