DENVER (CBS4)– It was a story that broke animal lovers’ hearts- a woman in Colorado Springs finds a baby fox and takes it in as her own. When Colorado Parks and Wildlife discovered the pet fox, they euthanized the animal.
What would soon follow was heartache for the woman and vitriol towards Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers.
CPW received dozens of threatening messages with one directed toward the CPW area manager which read, “I hope you die screaming.” Others accused officers of using the woman as “an example” and killing the fox senselessly.
CBS4’s Britt Moreno wanted to get people’s questions answered, so she met with CPW.
“It was a very sad situation and it was sad for wildlife officers, too,” said Jason Clay via Zoom.
He said officers have biology backgrounds, so they love animals, too. Putting down the fox was tough for the officers involved. The fox was kept behind a fence outdoors. Clay says it could have come in contact with other animals, so it had to be put down so its brain tissue could be tested for rabies.
“Rabies is always going to be fatal to humans,” Clay said.
State law requires officers to put down any wild animal that comes in contact with people. Clay said that CPW officers are supposed to protect people from animals, as well.
One question that people posed on social media is why did CPW not drop off the fox at a zoo? CPW does not allow wild animals to be displayed at zoos or rehabilitation centers.
The Denver Zoo told Moreno, “The vast majority of its animals are born and bred within zoo settings as part of Species Survival Plans which AZA, Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, manage collectively to ensure healthy diverse populations of certain species.”
The zoo does occasionally work with credible organizations and government agencies to provide homes for some animals at the zoo. Some examples include bald eagles and a grizzly bear. Colorado law does not allow CPW to give local animals to the zoo. The law does now allow CPW to give wild animals over to a zoo.
The woman thought she was saving the baby fox, but bringing it home ultimately lead to the fox’s death. In this instance, CPW did not fine the woman because she was already punished enough losing her fox. CPW said if people take in wild animals they could be facing a fine, because it is against state law. If an animal is domesticated in any way, Clay said that animal will never be able to survive on its own in the wild. To ensure animals survive, CPW urges people to leave wildlife alone.
Clay said there is a way for people to get the proper certification to provide rehabilitation for wildlife. It is a lengthy process.