(Dec. 2, 2005) A little fox is presumed to be living once again near
the Boardwalk after its harrowing ordeal two weeks ago.
The red fox has made its home near the Boardwalk in the south end of
town for as many as 10 years and has enchanted many people with its
comings and goings. Not everyone, however, was so enamored of the
critter, and one resident even went to far as to enlist the aid of a
nuisance wildlife control operator (trapper) to capture and remove it
from the resort.
Had it not been for the intervention of Ocean City Animal Control
officers, however, the Boardwalk fox might have found himself in new
territory. And now there is some question as to whether that attempt to
catch the animal was legal.
The trapper had hidden a leg-hold trap beneath some dirt on or about
Saturday, Nov. 19. Some residents said the trap was set too close to a
residence. Setting or maintaining any foot hold (leg-hold, body-gripping
or snare trap) within 150 yards of a permanent human residence is
prohibited without written permission, said Bob Beyer, a biologist with
the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The trapper did have permission because someone enlisted his aid, but
he should have obtained permission of occupants in all of the units
within 150 yards. There were reportedly four units nearby and the
trapper had the permission of only one unit owner.
An additional complaint was that the trapper did not notify area
residents of his plans to capture the fox. The person who hired him did
so without the permission or knowledge of nearby unit owners, some of
whom liked having the fox as a neighbor.
People, including visitors in a hotel, learned of the trapped fox
when they heard its cries at about 5:30 p.m. and saw it thrashing around
with its leg caught in the trap.
Police and an animal control officer were called, and the fox was
first calmed, then set free from the leg-hold. There was a speck of
blood on the fox’s leg, but it seemed otherwise uninjured. Set free, it
ran away, presumably back to its home near the Boardwalk.
Some residents expressed concern that the fox might have remained
trapped for a considerable length of time had no one contacted law
enforcement. State regulations stipulate that a trapper must check the
traps once a day for traps on dry land and once every three days if the
trap is in wetlands.
Had the fox remained caught in the trap until found by the trapper,
state law requires a trapper to kill it humanely rather than relocate it
to avoid the possible spread of rabies, Beyer said.
If the nearby residents are concerned that the trapper acted
illegally, they may file a complaint with the DNR, which will
investigate the issue, Beyer said.