'Together and free': How a Sask. wildlife rescue's painstaking efforts helped keep a fox family intact

When Nancy Dragan received a call about a fox kit that was trapped near Emma Lake, what she thought was a routine orphaned fox call turned into a 26-day project to keep a fox family intact.

A pair of adult foxes were relocated around a week before the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan (WROS), where Dragan volunteers, received the call.

The incident happened last year. WROS shared the story in a recent Facebook post.

The initial concern was that a kit, found in a humane trap meant to keep foxes away from a community, had no family left.

Dragan told CTV News she took the kit, which she named North, and began looking after it.

The next day in the same area, a female adult fox was trapped and Dragan had a gut feeling the two might know each other.

“We put them together when they were each in their separate cages. When I let the baby out the female showed a lot of recognition, as did the kit towards the female,” Dragan told CTV.

The pair was quickly released into the area, but North immediately ran back under the cabin near where he initially trapped, a concern for Dragan as she wanted the family to be far away from humans.

Deterrents were set up around the cabin to keep the foxes away, but it was little help as North and his mother kept hanging around.

Relocation was an option. However, for Dragan, it's the last resort due to some of the negative outcomes that can result from moving an animal to an unfamiliar place.

Also, Dragan suspected the family might be a litter bigger than initially thought and didn't want to whisk North and mom away from the area without doing some sleuthing.

Trail cams were set up in the area to monitor the pair.

Over the next few weeks, trail cam footage showed that North had five brothers and sisters, and WROS began work to safely capture them to get the family back together.

“We knew there was five kits, so between myself and the cabin owners, we were able to get the five kits over a course of about a week, and then at the very end we were able to get the mother, and she was so happy, you could just tell she was grateful,” Dragan said.

Humane cage traps were again set up, and one by one the family was brought back together. The next step was finding a place to relocate the family where they would be away from humans.

“You can see the pure joy of those kits and that mama. They were so happy to be together and free,” Dragan said.

The six foxes were released around 40 kilometres from the spot where they were found, a place Dragan felt confident enough to say goodbye.

“It was a wonderful feeling to bring that fox family back together. It was stressful too because I wanted to make sure this area would be a safe, good area for them,” Dragan told CTV.

“That momma fox, she was so capable, and she will relocate them to a safe location. I just knew they were going to be ok, I had to feel that in my heart.”

Dragan hopes North and his family stay safe in the woods, away from humans, but a little part of her still wants to look up one day and see a healthy, grown-up North peeking out from the trees.