Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2005

Boardwalk fox’s trapping may have been illegal

Nancy Powell
Associate Editor

(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.

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