Toronto Wildlife Centre says a fox kit was found dead at the Beaches last weekend.
A family of foxes were spotted a couple weeks ago occupying a den under the boardwalk at Toronto’s Woodbine Beach.
“The wounds suggested the kit was killed by a larger predator — likely an aggressive dog since the body was left behind,” the wildlife centre said in a tweet Friday morning.
Nathalie Karvonen, the executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, told Global News a volunteer found the dead kit on Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and its body was removed and taken for a cursory examination.
“There are constant problems with off-leash dogs in the area and dogs charging the foxes. It literally happens every day,” she said.
Karvonen said volunteers have been supervising the fox den daily from dawn to dusk.
Animal advocates warned people to stay away from the foxes and to not feed them. Shortly after discovery of the foxes, City of Toronto staff put up barricades to protect the family living at the beach.
Toronto Wildlife Centre is asking the public to keep dogs on a leash, avoid the den and “share the importance of protecting wildlife.”
“I really want to convey to people how important it is to stay away from the fox den for the next few weeks, especially with dogs,” Karvonen said, adding that fearing humans and dogs is crucial for a fox’s survival.
The wildlife centre said the photo posted on Twitter depicts a volunteer performing aversive conditioning to re-train the foxes to fear and avoid people.
“Although it may look unpleasant, volunteers rushing at a fox kit, and clapping or stomping on the ground, is what they should be doing to help save the foxes,” the centre said.
Karvonen said in order to remove the foxes, it would need permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the foxes would be transferred to a fox habitat where they would have to fight for survival with other foxes.
— With files from Samantha Berdini.