As you can see, we have "Pickles." Pickles is a Cascade Fox. And unless you're an insensitive brute, most people would consider him a very adorable little guy. The problem is, Pickles was so charming, that he attracted a lot of friends, and with those friends came problems. This week, Pickles had to be euthanized (i.e. shot) because he was seriously injured. The general feeling is that he was injured because he was fed by humans.
So the story goes, Pickles was injured (or ensnared) a few weeks ago. Since then, he's been seen pathetically limping around the park near the road between Longmire and Paradise (let me say that this was not a very pleasant sight to witness). No one is sure what it was that exactly injured him, but something did destroy his right front leg. The general thought is that it was probably a vehicle, but maybe a trap. We really don't know. What IS known is that Pickles loved human food and became habituated to humans behavior. With that habituation came problems. The NPS biologist had this to say on the matter,
"After consultation with two wildlife veterinarians, we decided that this animal did not have reasonable prospects for survival in the wild. The leg injury was severe and there was some indication that there was head injury as well. This Cascade fox was fed by people well prior to the injury (even after the injury). Fed animals like this one quickly found that hanging around the frontcountry and roads between Longmire and Paradise was really rewarding. What the feeding public does not understand is that what they do has consequences - some very serious consequences.
This was the third Cascade fox/vehicle collision recorded since 2005. All were fed animals or cubs of fed animals. Vehicle occupants and wildlife are at risk when aimals are fed. Like the old adage with bears - fed wildlife most often result in dead wildlife.
Addressing the park's wildlife feeding problem is a big task that is going to take a while. We've been working to increase awareness of the issue with park staff and visitors but have a long way to go. We're seeking help from social scientists, trying different ways of getting information to the public, and are seeking funding to help reduce the problem. Please help me get the word out.