Fox has tale to tell of human kindness
The little red fox put his paw outside his small portable cage, warily tasting freedom for the first time in nearly three weeks.With a little prodding from some human friends Saturday, the fox eventually bolted from the cage and ran out into Little Box Canyon in the White River National Forest north of Rifle.All in all, it marked another success story for the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit wildlife rescue operation located between Silt and Rifle.About three weeks ago, the fox was found nearly dead at a private residence in eastern Glenwood Springs. Carter Page, a volunteer for the Colorado Wildlife Division, rescued the animal, which was suffering from severe heatstroke with a temperature of nearly 105 degrees.When Page picked up the animal, it barely even moved its eyes. “That’s really rare for a wild animal not to even respond when it’s being touched by a human,” Page said.Thinking quickly, Page put the animal in a cardboard box and drove out to the wildlife foundation’s headquarters. There, center founder Nanci Limbach performed some animal first aid and helped nurse the fox back to health. She gave the animal a cold bath to reduce its temperature and then hooked it up to an IV to replenish its fluids.Limbach said she wasn’t sure if the fox was another victim of the Coal Seam fire near Glenwood Springs, or if the animal was just in bad shape from living too close to an urbanized environment.The fox recovered within 12 hours, but the wildlife center kept the animal under close observation for nearly 2 1/2 weeks. The concern was that the animal may have suffered brain or kidney damage as a result of its high fever.But once the fox showed that it had recovered fully, the wildlife crew spent a good part of Saturday afternoon looking for the perfect spot to release the 1-year-old male back into the wild.That spot was a meadow at the entrance of Little Box Canyon.After several minutes of hesitation, the fox bounded out of the cage. He ran out and looped back near the cage before going into the forest.In less than a minute, he disappeared, free again.”This is what it’s all about,” said Al King, chairman of the board for the wildlife group.So far this year, the group has rescued more than 100 animals. About 200 animals were rescued last year.For the wildlife foundation and its various volunteers, it’s all a labor of love.Limbach teaches some classes at the Spring Valley Campus of Colorado Mountain College.”I tell my students that they should be so lucky to have their passion become their profession or vice versa,” she said.Page works for Gamba & Associates, a Glenwood Springs civil engineering firm, but spends considerable time volunteering for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.Mostly, he helps to rescue animals and serves as a liaison to the wildlife group.”My employer is very understanding,” Page said.Page said he helps to rescue animals because of his love for all creatures.”They’re part of our world,” he said.The Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation was founded in 1984 by Limbach. Its purpose is to rescue injured or orphaned animals and release them back into the wild. The organization also conducts educational programs.For information, call 876-5489.
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