Grease-Covered Baby Fox Rescued on Railroad Tracks

Wildlife center volunteers are giving her round-the-clock care.

fox sleeping after rescue
Baby fox rests after rescue.

Raven Ridge Wildlife Center

A tiny fox baby is in critical condition, but hopefully on her way to recovery after a hunter found her covered in tar on railroad tracks in southern Pennsylvania.

“When we walked up on her, she was extremely weak, heavily panting, she looked like she was right next to death’s door,” Ronald Sensenig tells Treehugger. “She was covered in all that tarry greasy stuff that was there on the tracks. Instantly, our hearts just shattered. My wife started crying. I fought back tears.”

Sensenig was on his way to go fishing when he saw the baby fox, called a pup, cub, or kit.

“Even though we’re a hunter type family, we strongly believe in conservation,” he says. “When we saw that poor little baby struggling like that...”

His wife Jen added that her husband has said he’ll never go trapping anymore.

fox kit covered in grease
The kit came in covered in grease.

Raven Ridge Wildlife Center

Sensenig took the fox to Raven Ridge Wildlife Center in Washington Boro, Pennsylvania, which fortunately was just about 15 or 20 minutes away. Now she is getting IV fluids, pain medicine, and antibiotics. She’s being tube-fed because she’s not eating on her own and founder and director Tracie Young is regularly wiping the grease from the fox’s coat with an oil dilution solution.

“She’s quiet when I’m doing it, like she knows,” Young tells Treehugger. She is only removing a little oil at a time to not stress out the baby too much.

Young guesses the fox is only about 6-8 weeks old. She’s a red fox who should still be with her mother in a den.

“She’s been crying a lot,” Young says. “I know she's afraid and doesn’t know what’s going on.”

'Not Out of the Woods'

The baby came in severely dehydrated with a terribly injured tail. Part of her tail will need to be amputated when she feels better, but right now the fox is still in critical condition, and “she’s definitely not out of the woods yet,” Young says.

There’s a bin of grease near the railroad tracks that's likely used on equipment and there’s a chance she fell in it and somehow managed to get out, Young figures. Not only did the grease damage her coat, but she might also have swallowed some, which is very dangerous.

“I don’t know if she tried to groom herself and ingested this grease. That’s not good,” Young says.

People who follow the rescue on social media have reached out to authorities at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) about what happened in hopes that they will look into the container and see if the tarry substance has affected other animals.

“There’s only so much we can do. It’s the railroad. There’s certain equipment there and sometimes wildlife gets involved in it,” Young says. “That’s why we are here to help when it does happen. Often when there’s a problem with wildlife, man has something to do with it.”

Raven Ridge is a volunteer-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit that cares for birds of prey, foxes, bats, skunks, adult songbirds, possums, and other animals in need. The rescue is asking for donations for the fox's care.