Misfortune never comes alone. Now the life of Mr. Sneaky Evildoer depends on s hair…
The day before yesterday I was walking along the ocean shore with my family (my wife and two youngest sons came to visit me at the ranger station for the summer). Near the Kronotskaya river estuary I noticed strange animal tracks on the wet sand. It looked like a fox was dragging something extremely heavy.
We followed the traks and in hundred yards we found a fragment of fishing net that trapped a fox. I did not recongize Mr. Sneaky Evildoer the dying animal in the beginning, his eyes were so different, they were lacking his usual life energy. Poor fellow's face was swollen, and his yes were filled with dry sand.
Judging from his tracks his battle with this fishing net was going on for several hours, and little fox did not have any energy to continue. But he did the most important thing, he dragged himself out from the tidal zone, but the rest was too much fo him. A thin rope has gripped his neck very tightly. It is a miracle that none of the bears around has found him: we have seen eight of them fishing and grazing within half a mile around.
We carefully cut the rope from around his neck holding the poor animal by its legs and his head. But dear Evildoer could not even get up right away after we freed him. For half an hour he was laying as if in coma, and only then he made several attempts to get up and crawl to the fresh water source to drink some. He finally managed to drink some and even though it made him vomit he seems to feel a little better. At this time one of the surrounding bears got interested and started to approach us. We could see that the fox was very worried about the bear because he could barely move.
With my family we decided to try to back up a little from the bear, but Mr. Sneaky could not follow us, so we had to shot a flare to scare the bear away. We were protecting the suffering fox for the next two hours, until it got dark. At that point we had to go back to the ranger station since it would be too risky to maneuver on the boat 15 km up the river in the complete darkness and likewise it was to dangerous to stay for the night unprepared in tundra with kids.
It was hard to leave Mr. Evildoer behind, but there is no medical personnel or equipment on my ranger station, so there was no point of taking him with us causing more stress. He followed us to the boat and hid in tall grass.
First thing next morning I came back to the estuary and looked for my friend for half a day with no luck. In the afternoon I had to go back to the station, where not only my family, but also the reserve scientists were waiting for me for my park ranger duties as a guide. But in the evening, as soon as I can I went back and by miracle found Mr. Sneaky. He was hiding under tall river bank in the grass, not far from the place I've seen him the previous day. With a lot of difficulty he came out to greet me: his neck was seemed to be unnaturally stiff and his back legs were not listening to him, I could almost feel his pain.
My ranger station is located in one of the most wild and remote locations in the world, and all the land around is strictly protected from human activity and exploration by the law. But even here the wild animals can be so defenceless. Long hands of ecological irresposibility can reach even here, being brought by the ocean. Every time during my patrolling trips along the coast I collect and burn the nets that I find, but every time the ocean brings more... There are intensive fishing regions not far from Kronotsky Nature Reserve. People know the approximate number of the marine animals that get trapped in drifting nets in the open ocean and killed. But it turns out that those nets can kill on land too.
Our planet, our big cities and small towns, our land and especially oceans has a lot of garbage problems. We are suffering ourselves, our pets are suffering, our nature is suffering along with the wild animals. We have to be more responsible, we should learn how to live with no waste, it is not impossible. We can learn to clean after ourselves wherever we go, and, if needed, after other. To explain and encourage those, who don't notice the problem, and maybe even force those, who resist.
And also, let's hope that Mr. Sneaky Evildoer will get better...
(Photos are made by my son, Andrey Shpilenok)
PS In the next post you can read about Mr. Sneaky's fate... But I wanted to explain something due to the comments I received about controversy of helping the wild animal. Of course I tried to feed him - a fox is not a bear, and there is nothing dangerous about a little fox becoming tame. But he was in such a condition, that he could not even drink water, not to mention the food. And about medical help - please look at the map of the neighboring area. There is at least 60 miles to the nearest dirt road from here, it is about a week of hiking one way across tundra and mountains. The cost of helicopter ride from the nearest city is enormous, and moreover, the weather does not often permits flying, for example during past week it there was no flying weather. I have serious doubts that even a human would have a chance to get urgent medical attention, if something happens here unless there a ship happens to pass by with doctors on board. Of course I could have brought the poor animal to die at the ranger station - but transportation could have caused him additional stress and pain. I saw no point in doing so since there were no medics or medical equipment at home. Instead, I was protecting him from bears as much as I could every day in his familiar environment where he grew up and lived all his life and hoping for the best...
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