a skulk of foxes

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Back on home turf at Newtown Community Market last Saturday the G.O. and I met a group of fox rescue people.

Le Fox
Le Fox

I was immediately intrigued since as a little kid I encountered story book Foxy Loxy of Henny Penny notoriety and the real version on my grandparents’ farm – somewhat unwelcomed by the grown-ups as we had chooks, I’ve been fond of them.

Many years ago, at my ex-in-laws the resident farm fox would come some evenings to accept a meal of raw meat bones, and romp on the lawn with their very timid Maltese Terrier.

And, not so long ago one of the local fox population at Taylors Arm having exhausted as a food source the village’s entire complement of poultry made friends with the human residents, becoming quite familiar with its benefactors and welcome of a meal.

Fox fascination continued into adulthood. I discovered the Little Fur children’s books series by Isobelle Carmody – book 2 is A Fox Called Sorrow. Franky Furbo by William Wharton remains one of my favourite novels. “During WW II, a dying American soldier, William Wiley, and his German captor, Wilhelm Klug, are miraculously rescued by a fox endowed with extraordinary powers, Franky Furbo.” And family history research turned up the gem that one of my mother’s ancestors, originating from Prussia, were a family by the name of Voss meaning fox in Low German.

street art - Mary Street, Newtown
street art – Mary Street, Newtown

Frederick Joseph Herman VOSS born 1830 in the Grand Duchy of Mecklenberg-Schwerin, Germany (Prussia). Fred Voss’ father – name unknown – was a farmer who hired himself out as a mercenary soldier under Napoleon. In 1812 it is said that he went with Napoleon’s “Grand Armee” to Russia, on the infamous march to Moscow. [Source: Obit of F. Voss ‘Inverell Times’ June 26, 1936] Fred Voss married Dorothy (Johanna Doratea FLANZE (or PHRANZE)) in 1859[?] Alshue, Germany. Shortly after arrival to Australia in c 1854-55 via ship “Daniel Ross” ex Hamburg, the Voss family was obliged by the Australian Govt of the time to undergo naturalisation, and to anglicise their German names. The family made their way up from Port of Sydney in colony of NSW to vicinity of Moree, Gunnedah and Narrabri. First the family lived on ‘Gurley Station’ where Frederick worked as a shepherd and farmer. Later the family moved up to the Glen Innes area. Fred & Dorothy VOSS had 6 children, 1. *Otte Nickelark Marks, a twin to sister, 2. Dor – both born Germany, 3. Frederick b. 1856 Gurley Station, 4. Hammon Henry b. 1862 Wee Waa a twin of 5. Anna Dorothea, and 6. Emma Christina b. 1862 Wellingrove.

*Nicholas Otto’s daughter Ellen Madaline Voss (b 1884) was my mother’s father’s mother, so my great-grandmother.
Source: http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/print.cgi?voss::796.html

Sydney Fox Rescue
Sydney Fox Rescue

Before my enthusiasm about fox rescue overtook my faculties I checked the Sydney Fox Rescue website http://www.sydneyfoxrescue.com. It’s informative, plain-speaking and down-to-earth.

Red Foxes aren’t native to Australia. They were introduced to Australia in the early 1800’s for the purpose of the traditional English sport of fox-hunting. They now pose a serious conservation problem. Current estimates indicate that there are more than 7.2 million red fox with a range extending throughout most of the continental mainland, including in the middle of cities.

“It is illegal to keep foxes outside NSW… in New South Wales you do not need a license or permit to own a fox (as a category 5 animal) under the Non-Indigenous Animals Regulation 2012. As foxes are not currently a declared pest under the Local Land Services Act 2013, there is no legal obligation for land managers to control them. Foxes may be kept in captivity, but it is an offence under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 revised 2009 to release them.”

The website states “it is important to remember foxes from Fox Rescue Sydney are not pets, they are permanent wild rescues”.

“Sydney Fox Rescue rescues and re-homes foxes in an effort to reduce the number of wild foxes preying on native wildlife… We’re removing a problem from the wild in the most humane way possible. We’re all about providing an alternative to hunting, poisoning or snaring but at the same time preserving the native environment”

While I cannot adopt a fox… although I’m sure my sister-landlord would support me – after all she did for 6 months inhabit the same apartment with her partner, a cat, a bird and a snake… however the body corporate wouldn’t be so accommodating. I’ll look into volunteering, and the least I can do send funds the way of Sydney Fox Rescue and share the info & link to the website… http://www.sydneyfoxrescue.com, it’s just amazing.

 

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34 thoughts on “a skulk of foxes

    ardysez said:
    May 29, 2014 at 6:56 am

    What an interesting post, EllaDee. I had no idea there was a fox rescue program anywhere in Australia.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 29, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Thank you. I’d had no idea either, and because NSW is the only state where it’s legal to keep foxes it seems there is Sydney Fox Rescue and another group of the south coast of NSW as far as my Googling has been able to find.

      Like

    philosophermouseofthehedge said:
    May 29, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I love foxes! Where we used to live there was one that appeared through the woods and field behind our house. We would see him late afternoons as we walked the dog. Some said he was a she that had a den with babies on the golf course a bit away.
    I’m going to look for those children’s stories.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 29, 2014 at 10:42 am

      I hope you enjoy the Little Fur series, it might be in your local library 🙂 I also remembered after I published the post my affection as a child for the English TV series and character-puppet Basil Brush http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basil_Brush. Did he have a US presence?
      There seems to be a den of foxes at the back of our house at TA – across the paddock and over the river but we have on occasion seen them playing in the late afternooon sun.

      Like

    davidprosser said:
    May 29, 2014 at 7:35 am

    What a fascinating slice of your family history. The street art of the fox is really good, I confess I’ve got a soft spot for foxes but was surprised to read they’re a major problem in Australia.I’d assume that rabbits would be a big past of their food but it doesn’t sound like it.
    Hoping you’re both OK.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 29, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Thank you 🙂 I was very pleased when I unearthed the G.O. and I a Prussian/German ancestor each to lighten up the Scottish (him) and English (me).
      Rabbits are part of foxes diet. But they also like to dine on small native animals and people’s chooks, ducks which makes them unpopular. Foxes & dingoes (a competive species) were culled because they are a predator of livestock which meant more rabbits (attempted control by myxomatosis and calicivirus introduced to cull them which they developed resistance to but spread to other species). So it’s a mess.
      And then there are other introduced invasive feral dogs and cats, cane toads, camels, water buffalo, goats, pigs, donkeys, deer, brumbies…
      Tasmania doesn’t have foxes because [native] Tasmanian Devils are a competitor. There was talk of introducing Tasmanian Devils to the mainland but there’s not much likelihood of that as they are now listed as a vulnerable species.

      Like

    Eha said:
    May 29, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Yoicks! What a fabulous post! I first ‘met’ a fox at about age three back in Estonia ’cause Mom would insist on wearing this big fox collar with a head with THOSE eyes staring at me. And I heard they did damage to farm animals and thought they were very wicked indeed! The critters still seem off worst with most of my friends/blog friends now ! So being a huge animal lover I really have to use your post as a base and do some more homework! I still do associate words like ‘sneaky’ and ‘sly’ and ‘undependable’ etc with them but am more than willing to relearn 🙂 !!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Thank you 🙂 Foxes I’m sure are all those things, and deservedly unpopular with people who have contrasting interests. But I do have a soft spot for foxes, and equally in some circles unpopular domestic cats, and what I like about the fox rescue is they seem to be acting responsibly and not hurting anyone.
      The introduced species (both animal & plant) issue is longstanding and I fear truly unsolvable. I’m realist enough to understand most foxes will be hunted, poisoned, trapped, and like too many native animals killed by automobiles. I’m happy though that a bunch of people have a different approach.
      Fox fur collars, etc and any taxidermied-preserved animals at all give me the horrors… I can only imagine what your 3 year old self felt.

      Like

        Eha said:
        May 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        Horribbble . . . 🙂 ! BUT: my husband and I, same as both our parents, believed in teaching our children matters that schools could not. They both had 14 years each at the Dalton scheme Ascham in Edgecliff, where it was par rigeur for half the class to be missing during winter, ’cause parents were ‘teaching’ them in Europe etc in their summer. remember staying a few nights at Schloss Sighartstein near Salzburg, Austria [it’s OK, all deceased there!] – after the first night both girls [about 6 & 8 at the time] asked could we please move into a proper hotel – the big halls full of taxidermist ‘art’ did not appeal a’tall, a’tall, a’tall! 🙂 ! We did not – but did they learn a lesson!!!!!

        Like

    roughseasinthemed said:
    May 29, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Don’t think I’ve ever seen one. My mother had one of those poor dead ones to drape around her neck and a silver fox collar on a nice brown coat. I cut off the collar.

    The rescue sounds a fine organisation and seems relatively new. I wish it much success. If you can’t re home or foster, volunteering is a fine and admirable way to help.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 29, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Oh, yes I can’t imagine I would be able to manage calmly having a fur collar nestled up against my neck… but they were of their time.
      I’ve joined the Sydney Fox Rescue’s Facebook page, so I’m sure I’ll learn more.

      Like

    Food,Photography & France said:
    May 29, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    I like that…a skulk of foxes:)

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 30, 2014 at 6:05 am

      It rolls off the tongue. There’s a design studio for jewellery, accessories ,homewares amongst other things of the same name in Australia. They’re very good.

      Like

    acflory said:
    May 29, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Back in Hungary, there used to be a child’s toy, or perhaps a toy based on a cartoon character called Vuk. It was a fox and I’ve loved them every since. 🙂

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 30, 2014 at 6:09 am

      I Googled Vuk, yes, right up my alley. I also liked The Fantastic Mr Fox, although I watched on TV years after its release.

      Like

        acflory said:
        May 30, 2014 at 11:51 pm

        I don’t think I saw the Fantastic Mr Fox but the title definitely rings a bell. Might do some googling myself. 🙂

        Like

    Marianne said:
    May 30, 2014 at 12:59 am

    I love foxes, too – they are soooo cute!

    Living in the countryside we sometimes see them, particularly just before sunset.

    Thanks for the heads-up about Sydney Fox rescue – I might just look them up next time I’m over 🙂

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 30, 2014 at 6:17 am

      Foxes do have quite a fan base, despite their conflicts of interest with humans. I was quite upset at the neighbors’ losses of feathered ones but can’t really blame the foxes for doing what comes naturally. And they are adaptable, as the Le Fox pic illustrates.

      Like

    diannegray said:
    May 30, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I think it’s wonderful there is fox rescue program in NSW. I don’t think we have foxes in far north QLD (I’ve never seen one). I’ll have to check it out 😉

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 30, 2014 at 10:14 am

      According to Wiki “Established populations of red fox are found in all states except Tasmania and is widespread with the exception of northern Queensland, the Kimberley…”, so unsurprising you haven’t seen one. From what I’ve read on the fox rescue site they do border pick up-drop offs from other states, which my weird imagination paints them as occurring in Macca’s car parks… like so many others.

      Like

    Veronica Roth said:
    May 31, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Wow! Now I want a rescued fox as a pet! I know some people in England who keep a pet fox. You know, I think I might paint myself one. Maybe in one of those poses where they sit upright and wrap their tail around them…you know the one? I did paint myself a fox a couple of years ago on the sawn off end of that year’s Christmas tree, but just the face. 🙂

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 31, 2014 at 8:48 am

      There’s definitely an appeal to foxes, to some of us anyway. Maybe it’s certain catty traits both visual and characteristic combined with canine. They’d be a fine subject for your art.

      Like

    anne54 said:
    May 31, 2014 at 10:19 am

    That’s a very thought provoking post, and discussion. Foxes are spectacular intelligent creatures, and I would like them a lot more in countries where they are native! As you have said, they are devastating for our native species and there are many in our urban areas. While I can’t condone cruelty to any animal, I think that as many foxes as possible need to be removed from our environment. But I wonder about the viability of the Programme of the Sydney Fox Rescue — however, I suppose if only some animals are treated more humanely, it is better. I am a little confused. Does the SFR find homes of the foxes as pets, or kill them humanely?

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      May 31, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Fox rescue is new to me but briefly chatting to the Sydney Fox Rescue people at the markets and reading the information on their very informative website they are offering an alternative to culling, and advocate removing some, not as many as are culled I imagine, for rescue and re-homing by people who have been trained to adopt them as permanent wild rescues rather than pets. It is an interesting discussion that also extends to a whole raft of introduced species, both flora and fauna, domestic and feral.

      Like

    Vicky said:
    June 1, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I adore foxes too, I always think Little Sally looks very foxy.
    Oddly, only a couple of weeks ago while I was out with her, a fox crossed my path, it stopped and stared at her for a least a minute…..I wonder if it thought the same.
    I stared at it wishing I had my camera.

    What an interesting history they have in Australia, I never knew they weren’t native to the country, it’s a bit like the grey squirrel here, which was brought in by the Victorians as an exotic species.

    Isn’t genealogy fascinating? I’ve not found anyone famous amongst my relatives, but I have found some fascinating stories.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 2, 2014 at 6:07 am

      Sal does look foxy, it would have been interesting to them both. Especially when their coats are full and they are healthy, foxes are appealing to the eye, but I think we are also intrigued by their intelligence. I’m hopeless, I have a soft spot for animals, introduced or otherwise.
      Oh yes, I love the family history stories. Mine or anyone’s. I’ve never tracked back to anyone famous either but found some interesting stuff about they way they lived… and died.

      Like

    Miss Alister said:
    June 3, 2014 at 8:00 am

    It took me forever to clear a path to Here, but I’m so pleased to see all this fox business. Foxes are pretty, fascinating, mythological… I loved all your history and of course the graffiti, and got such a kick out of your story of the fox that came for a meal and to play with the dog! A wild fox sleeps for a few hours in the morning on the roof of our shed where it’s covered with greenery. And I really like Sydney Fox Rescue’s containing and re-homing plan. I can see why you’re excited to get involved!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 3, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      So true, many of us are beguiled by storytale, mythical foxes from an early age… they’re so clever and handsome. And, like cats, foxes seem to have a keen sense of allied vs foe territory. Your shed roof and the resident must meet acceptable foxy criteria.

      Like

    Bill said:
    June 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    While I have no objection to foxes, in the abstract, we have a mother hen who hatched 9 chicks but now only has 2, thanks to a fox. One of our favorite hens went missing a couple of days ago, likely a casualty of the same fox. It’s hard for me to be objective given the fondness we had for those fox-meals.

    But no doubt they are beautiful creatures. I just wish they’d live my chickens in peace.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Oh yes I’d be most upset about your chickens, and we had a great affection for the characters that were our neighbour’s goose & turkey and miss them, as well as the waste of local chickens. I know the foxes need to eat too but so hard to reconcile the damage done to native and domestic animals by introduced, feral species. [Humans included amongst them.] I preferred providing a few fox dinners from scraps and meat bones, and am pleased that there is an additonal strategy to contain foxes as well as culling them.

      Like

    Kourtney Heintz said:
    June 15, 2014 at 8:43 am

    They are such pretty animals. I love the painting of one. What a cool rescue group.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      June 16, 2014 at 6:32 am

      That’s it, foxes are very pretty and appealing which cuts them some slack on some of their ways which don’t always go well with humans. The group which is an interesting premise, is getting more media exposure as well, which is good.

      Like

    mybrightlife said:
    July 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    7.2 million! That is a lot of foxes!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      July 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      Mind boggling, huh. And when you add the stats: 4.2 million pet dogs in Australia, and 3.3 million pet cats in Australia, just domestic that is, we’re really quite outnumbered 😉

      Like

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