Published:
December 15, 2015
Seven orphaned fox cubs released back into the wild near Burnham

Seven orphaned fox cubs are running free and wild once more thanks to a team of wildlife rescuers near Burnham-On-Sea.

It's been a long road from rescue to rehabilitation to release for the cubs - who have been hand-reared at Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill - and are finally making a new life for themselves.

Ed, Piran and friends were rescued back in the Spring. Piran was found alone under a shed in Bristol, just a few days old. His mother did not return so he was brought to Secret World and was joined by Ed, another orphaned fox cub rescued in Crewkerne.

The cubs were hand-reared by animal carers at the wildlife charity in East Huntspill and were joined by five more orphans rescued in Minehead - Rory, Rufus, Rueben, Reamus and Demelza.

Once they were weaned, the seven friends spent the summer in an outdoor pen at Secret World, away from human contact so they could run, play, forage, socialise and develop natural fox behaviours to prepare them for a life in the wild.

Meanwhile, Secret World's Release Coordinator Tristan Cooper was busy finding a new wild home for the foxes.

Fox lovers Charlie and her husband were delighted to help. They released foxes from Secret World on their farm last year and have a permanent 'soft-release' enclosure set up within woodland on their five acre site.

The seven foxes moved in to the enclosure and spent a couple of weeks getting used to their new surroundings. Then the big day came.

About an hour before dusk, Charlie opened the door of the enclosure and the foxes were free to take their first steps into the wild. Some of them couldn't wait to leave, but others were more cautious.

"By the end of the following day they had all left the enclosure," says Charlie. "We left the door open, so the foxes could go back in if they wanted to, but none of them did. For the first five days they didn't stray far, but then we saw them less and less, and five of them have now moved on, leaving two - a dog and a vixen - who we now think are living quite close by, along with another fox which we think is one that we released last year."

"We noticed with last year's group too that a small number seem to stay and the rest disperse. We'll try and scan their microchips when we can, so we know which foxes are still around."

"We adore all wildlife and we love having foxes on our land. There's a lot of misinformation about foxes, badgers and buzzards out there, but if people spent time watching them they would realise that they are lovely animals, each with their own part to play in the ecology of wildlife. Foxes actually help farmers by keeping rat and rabbit numbers down. Wildlife takes care of itself if you leave it alone."

These fox cubs are just seven of over 5,000 animals rescued by Secret World in 2015. 1,177 of these were orphans, like these cubs who needed round-the-clock care.

The charity expects to help even more babies in 2016, and is appealing for urgent funds to give their skilled volunteers the right equipment to do the best possible job.

Readers can give wildlife orphans a second chance by supporting Secret World's Christmas appeal, to equip the charity's wildlife crèche with incubators, bottle and sterilising kits at www.secretworld.org/secret-world-creche.

 


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