I found a dead fox in the woods – it was my woodland friend Smiley Vixen. Instead of letting her rot exposed to the elements, I gave her a dignified farewell by burying her. My heart is shattered 🙁
I monitored the cute female Red Fox (Vulpes Vulpes) with my trail camera for a while. I named her Smiley Vixen because despite being a predator with formidable fangs, she had this amazingly warm and welcoming smile on her face at all times. She was young, but ferocious and fearlessly defended her den from intruders, even if they were larger than her.
But on one of my recent strolls through the woods, I came cross her lifeless body. Rigor Mortis has not fully set in and she’s not going off with rotten stench so I presume she was not dead for too long. Her skin was covered with morning dew, so it’s likely that she lay there whole night before I found her in the morning.
Coming upon her dead body broke my heart. Not only do I care deeply for wild animals, but in this case it was a fox I was familiar with, so I felt an extra deep connection to her. The overwhelming sadness of seeing this majestic animal in such a state left me gasping for words.
I did not find any signs of trauma on her. No blood stains either. Hence I do not think she was shot dead or bludgeoned or anything of sorts. But at the same time, she could not have died a natural death for wild animals don’t pass on out in the open. They sense when their time is nigh and withdraw into hiding where no one can find them. That’s why even though the bush is full of wild animals, both terrestrial and avian, but you never see the ground littered with their corpses when they die a natural death. Of course, road kills and other instances which result in unexpected animal deaths happen, but when died naturally, you never find their corpse.
That’s why I suspect Smiley Vixen had been poisoned. Obviously, being a fox, she needs flesh to survive and when winter comes, the going gets hard for wild predators so sometimes out of desperation, foxes venture into human habitats and steal chickens or rabbits. That understandably angers the people who invest time, money and energy to raise their animals only to lose them to a fox. But resorting to poisons seems a bit too low to me. I do understand where the villagers are coming from. But I also understand the wildlife, who keep getting cornered with habitat fragmentation, ongoing deforestation and with it, the inevitable loss of prey for predatory animals.
Either way, I don’t know with 100% certainty how Smiley Vixen died, but I know wild animals don’t end up like that when their death is natural, and I didn’t see any gunshot or blunt force trauma on her, so that leaves me with poisoning. However she was missing two front teeth for some reason. I don’t have an explanation on what that was all about.
One way or the other, nothing brings Smiley Vixen back so I at least granted her the dignified end she would have chosen if her death was natural – away from the eyes and noses of other predators or scavengers.
So after finding her, I went back home and returned with a tripod and a spade. I put the camera on the tripod so I have my hands free to dig, but I encountered problem. Winter is slowly winding down, but it’s still cold outside. There was no snow on the ground, as a few warmer days melted it all. But the temperatures remain winter like and well below freezing, so the ground was frozen solid and my spade became quite useless.
Tried as I could, there was no digging a hole in the frozen ground so I opted to move the vixen’s body into a groove left by a tractor which must have passed by there when the ground was muddy, and scraped as much top layer soil as I could to cover her up. The very top layer of the soil was thawed slightly, so it was possible to move it, but anything deeper down was frozen solid.
And so I buried my beloved Smiley Vixen, and fashioned her a cross from the twigs of a downed tree so she can rest in peace as her spirit carries on to the eternal halls of the Creator. One of the most heartbreaking funerals I’ve been a part of for me… that’s for sure 🙁
Heartfelt Prayer for the Smiley Vixen
In the sacred woods, where whispers reside,
A young fox’s spirit takes its final stride.
With a heavy heart, I gather here today,
To honor her life, as I send her on her way.
Oh, gentle creature of the wild and free,
Your presence brought joy to all who could see.
In the dance of the forest, you found your grace,
Now, in the Great Spirit’s embrace, you find your place.
As I mourn your passing, dear vixen so fair,
I remember the moments I was blessed to share.
Your spirit, like the wind, forever will roam,
Guided by the ancestors, finding its way home.
In the tapestry of life, you played your part,
A messenger of nature, with a loving heart.
Though your time was brief, your impact profound,
Your memory in my soul will forever be found.
I offer my prayers to the Creator above,
To guide your spirit on its journey of love.
May you find solace in the celestial skies,
As you join the chorus of nature’s lullabies.
Oh, young vixen, your spirit now takes flight,
In the realm of eternity, shining so bright.
As I bid you farewell, with tears in my eyes,
I celebrate your life, under the infinite skies.
In the circle of life, we are all connected,
From the smallest creature to the most respected.
May your spirit find peace, as it returns to the source,
And may your memory forever be our guiding force.
In the sacred woods, where whispers reside,
I release your spirit, with love deep inside.
Farewell, Smiley Vixen, may your journey be blessed,
As you find eternal rest in the Creator’s caress.