Unjust? Grey fox captured, killed near UVA

news-foxyDespite healthy-looking fur, the grey fox captured on Wednesday was euthanized.

After UVA's recent bout of small mammalian terror, in which two students were bitten and a sweater was swiped, both the university and Charlottesville community can safely say they've seen an animal reined in as officials announced the capture and subsequent euthanization of a fox Wednesday. But was it justice? The capture has some people questioning the actions as rash and cruel, and wondering if it was the right fox–- or merely an innocent animal unjustly handed a death sentence.

"It's a shame to kill this animal to make it look like the authorities are doing something to protect the public," says Crozet nature writer Marlene Condon, who was horrified by the image she saw on NBC 29's Wednesday night report. "We're losing so many animals, we can't afford to keep killing."

Steve Colvin, the trapper hired by UVA to seek out an "aggressive" fox in the University Circle-Lambeth Field area, brought a captured grey fox to the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA early on Wednesday. Despite not showing signs of rabies–- which might include glazed eyes and matted fur, according to Condon–- the fox's fate was almost inevitable, as officials in the State Health Department decided to euthanize the animal to test it for rabies.

"The grey fox they [showed] on Channel 29 did not look rabid to me," Condon insists. "It had clear eyes and was cowering in the cage, obviously terrified."

Although initial reports of the attacks described a red fox as the suspect, local medical authorities worry those reports could have mislabeled the fox's appearance or that the original fox's aggression could have spread to others–- thus taking every precaution with the captured grey fox.

"Unfortunately, we can't test for rabies in live animals," says Thomas Jefferson Health District Director Dr. Lilian Peake, " so they do have to be euthanized to be tested."

With the body sent to Richmond for testing at the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, Condon says she's speaking out about what she considers an unnecessary death.

"Wildlife serves a function," says Condon. "You shouldn't be killing them if you don't have to."

Peake insists on the necessity of the euthanization, despite the unknown identity of the fox, as the test results will be crucial in determining an overall make-up of the wildlife in the UVA area. If the grey fox was indeed rabid, she says it would indicate there may be an epidemic amongst other local foxes.

"Unless you see the fox biting someone and you take the fox right at that point, it's hard to say which fox was involved," she explains. "This test will give us more information. If the fox is positive, there might be other rabid animals in the area."

While Condon and Peake have different outlooks on the fate of the grey fox, the main point they both stress is the need for a community better educated on interacting with wildlife. Condon, author of the book The Nature-Friendly Garden, is scheduled to give a talk to the community on October 13 about appropriate ways to interact with the natural world.

"It's important to keep these wild populations around and know how to live with them," Condon insists. Peake agrees.

"We want to caution everybody that if you see a wild animal, don't pet it or feed it regardless of the situation," says Peake. "Appreciate wildlife from a distance."

If the grey fox does test positive for rabies, the UVA community and Health Department will step up their outreach and heighten awareness to students about how to interact with wildlife, according to Peake. Condon hopes the increased understanding will lead to less unnecessary animal bloodshed.

"Were these people bitten because they were doing something towards the animal?" asks Condon. "A lot of people don't realize that you don't approach a wild animal. Any frightened animal will bite you just because its scared."


VOR said: "Cat depredation is a relatively minor, but manageable factor."

My point exactly!

ââ?¬Å?Unfortunately, we can’t test for rabies in live animals," says Thomas Jefferson Health District Director Dr. Lilian Peake. What a load of BS!!! Euthanizing an animal to test for rabies is not the only way. If this were true, then all suspected animals would be euthanized. But, this is not the case. Domestic animals are put into isolation for 10 days of observation. Animals infected with rabies exhibit specific symptoms, that appear within 10 days. Examining the brain for rabies, should only be done after the animal exhibits the symptoms and NEVER before. The need to cut open an animal's brain for "testing" is not "always" necessary.

Dr. Peake also suggest that they need to capture and euthanize wild animals on a regular basis to check the health of the population. There is no need to go around killing wild animals indiscriminately. What is wrong with capture, observe and release.

The CASPCA should have told Dr. Peake to find someone else to her killing. Now, the CASPCA has lost credibility with the public. Their mission statement apparently does not apply to wild animals. This double standard needs to be corrected by them.

The TJHD should also be watched very closely by animal rights organizations. If the fox did have rabies, and I suspect it will be reported that it did. (The public will never know for sure.) They seem to be planning on trapping and killing more foxes. Apparently, until they are gone from the UVA grounds and thus no more rabies, and it can be reported as case closed.

Revolver, You say I don't understand feral cats? My family and I have tamed and cared for numerous ferals, and you have no idea here. I have a BIG question for you? You're telling me Voices vacinates for rabies before releasing. As far as I know, rabies vacines are required every 3 years. Don't try to tell me you can round up all of the ferals every 3 years in order to re-vacinate. Yes, my cat was fortunate in being taken off of the street. But most are not as lucky.
Voices and the SPCA must not care for wildlife. Feral cats take a real toll on small mammals and birds.

Revolver guy, Colonies of domestic cats running loose kill songbirds,chipmunks, etc. and otherwise negatively impact the natural environment. If you don't believe us, ask the Wildlife Center of VA what they think about your mission.


No one is "dumping colonies of cats into city neighborhoods." The cats are already there. Those who conduct TNR simply sterilize and release the cats back to the areas where they have already been living. Any kittens or adults who can be tamed are removed and rehomed. Cats don't eat foxes, so no worries there. You would be surprised at the number of people (often low income) in Charlottesville who feed stray and feral cats. They just don't have the money to have them sterilized or vaccinated. That's why Voices' program is so important.

And please note that both Voices and the SPCA have barn cat programs to relocate cats from areas where they are not welcome to barn homes. As you can imagine, this takes quite a bit of work. I think the efforts of these organizations to help homeless cats and reduce the population should be supported, not criticized.

Marlene Condon is not an expert on foxes or rabies. Why would the author of this article rely so heavily on a "nature writer." If you ask me, it's lazy journalism. I like Marlene Condon's essays on NPR, but I'm not sure why the Hook constantly relies on her as the spokesperson for "nature." There are many more people in Cville with far more expertise.

@Ouch, they cut the eartip so the animal won't be trapped, knocked out, and shaved for surgery again and again. An ear-tipped cat is a visible marker that a cat has already been spayed or neutered. Tattoos wouldn't help.

I have one lounging next to me on my desk right now and have to say he looks very handsome regardless. It didn't seem to bother him any, the surgery hurt a lot more.

Cats that are being adopted into homes don't necessarily have to be ear-tipped. When my cat was neutered, he was 100% feral, part of a group of little kittens that was dumped behind my house by some jerks to fend for themselves. I trapped him, and paid for his neutering and shots with the help of a $25 coupon from VFA. Then I adopted and tamed him which took several years. I never considered his missing ear tip to be a deal breaker at all.

So what's it to be: cats or birds? Everyone realizes you can't have it both ways, right? There is no such thing as a "natural" interaction once humans so dramatically alter the environment. All the poor little feral cats so many people are concerned for kill countless numbers of birds each year (mostly babies). You have to prioritize your values, and if the welfare feral cats are at the top of your list, I'd say you need to re-evaluate. Put your passion to be better use. The world needs it.


I agree that eartipping is primitive and not ideal. However, it is crucial to ensure an effective TNR program. Tattoos are not visible from afar. Say you are trying to sterilize a group of 25 cats who are all either solid black or grey tabby. The only way you will know which cats have been sterilized after release is if they all have easily identifiable eartips. The eartipping is done while the cats are under anesthesia. I doubt the cats care too much what their ears look like once they are awake.


Many wildlife experts do not believe that free-roaming cats have a significant impact on wildlife populations. There is no consensus on this issue. The "Wisconsin study" most often quoted by bird enthusiasts has been discredited. I stand by my position that the impact of cats is negligible compared to human impact. I support the Wildlife Center and have taken many birds and small mammals there. Some were victims of cat or dog attacks, but many others had been hit by automobiles or poisoned.

Hey! I'm the person who usually posts as Reality Check. FWIW, I disagree with the poster above, and think the euthanasia of this fox was entirely unnecessary.

On the whole, I think that the SPCA is a noble organization, however their record re feral cats is abysmal. When people call Animal Control to report feral cats, the animals are usually trapped, taken to the SPCA, then killed. Most people don't realize this when they call because they assume that since the SPCA touts itself as a no-kill shelter that the animal is safe. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Feral and ill animals are killed there all the time. The sad thing is that the SPCA doesn't fess up about this. It could be a really great educational opportunity if they were to let the community know the proper procedures about interacting with the feral cat population.

Please spay and neuter your pets... and don't send Animal Control after feral cats!

I understand some folks have inherited too many cats in farming or rural areas for various reasons, including other residents dropping them off. I commend Voices For Animals for neutering such cats before returning them to a farm where they will be fed. It is unwise to release cats into a populated area, or the city, or without a plan to feed them.

As bad as this seems most would be horrified as to what goes on in the UVA animal labs. That is a carefully guarded secret.

I say catch ALL the foxes at UVA and make coats out of them to auction off for the endowment losses that the IDIOTS at Darden couln't seem to prevent with all of their proclaimed knowledge.


A solid plan. If money was fecal in nature, all the rubes at Darden would have a reason for their sh!t-eating grins.

Self-important gasbags all, from the faculty to the bug-eyed, avaricious students they profess to teach, Darden is a collective eyesore -- from the faux Jeffersonian knockoff architecture, to the goofy-ass statue on one end of the facility, to the deluded leadership of the school who spend money like there's no tomorrow, yet they cannot seem to raise any. They are tiresome, arrogant and ultimately, just sad & silly.

If Darden alumni had a clue how their donations were being squandered, the collective shockwave of checkbooks snapping shut would blow the toupees off the deadwood Darden faculty.

Hope all you animal lovers are paying attention to the fact that the current plan for our future water supply will flood 180 acres of mature forest at the Ragged Mt. Natural Area and kill all the wildlife, flora and fauna, therein. Wonder how many foxes will meet their demise if we let this happen ? Dam building means, blasting, heavy equipment, roads , air pollution, don't think this is too great for wildlife.

@plop-- depending on when the head is received, they can get the results the same day, or the next day at the very latest. That means they've been sitting on the results for almost a week now.

I wonder if we'll ever hear the real truth? Since the one fox they caught was exhibiting no symptoms of rabies, I'm wondering if its life was sacrificed so that people could appear busy at work on this issue.

SO very sad and also VERY predicted. The local SPCA should be CALLED ON THE CARPET, BIG TIME, for going along with the decision to satisfy UVA and ALBEMARLE. SUCH cruel dumb dumbs. I say sentence the authorities, including the SPCA director to a work routine at the WILDLIFE CENTER. WE now have them in the bag.

Demand a price analysis! Put in a FOI request. AND follow it all closely. They can't turn back now, because we KNOW too much.

Now that she's been exposed as an ignoramous, Dr Peake should resign. When the average citizen knows more about rabies than the Director of the Health Department, then we have a bit of a problem on our hands. Lord knows we shouldn't be trusting her with the more complicated stuff.

The SPCA needs to take a long hard look at their part in this fiasco. Does anyone know how the hierarchy works vis a vis the Health Dept and SPCA? Did anyone involved bother calling the Wildlife Center to get their advice on rabies in the wild population?

What bothers me about the fox's death is that it was so entirely unnecessary, and to add insult to injury, it died at the hands of idiot bureaucrats.

"According to NBC 29 this morning the ONLY way to test for rabies on a fox is to euthanize it?! Why not shoot it with a tranquilizer and test it by that."

I'm no wildlife expert, but I'm not sure the fox would survive the part where they have to take out a piece of its brain.

I am sorry- did you all not get the part that the brain must be tested? Kinda hard to do that and keep the fox alive.

This country kills millions of unborn humans each year, and you clowns are worked up about the death of a fox! They caught a fox in the area, hope it was the fox that bit the students, and have to kill it to test it; get over it. If it had bit one of you, and the school didn't take action, you would probably be the first ones to file a lawsuit!

If AnimalLover wants to round up all of the foxes at UVA, and keep them in their spare bedroom, it seems the problem will be solved!

@ J:

If an animal is rabid, I agree: it should be caught and euthanized.

Problem is, the fox in the report above *was not* near humans, nor is there any indication this was the same fox that "attacked" people a few weeks ago. It was captured while minding its own business, probably looking for food.

The SPCA's duty is, as their name suggests, to prevent cruelty to animals. Unfortunately, in this case, they were perpetrators of it.

It's sad when an animal has to be killed but there is no shortage of foxes in this area- we need to stop acting like this was an endangered animal. Wouldn't the rabid fox die of rabies any way or he could get hit by a truck filled with sweaters headed for Barracks Road Shopping Center.

Poor little fella. to think this cute little guy is dead now.... it's a shame but so are so many other acts we humans carry out.

Look how scarred the pup is! instead of killing it to find out if it had rabies why not wait a week or two to see if it succumbs to it's pressumed disease? ah what do I know

Let Darwinism do it's job... If you're not smart enough to stay clear of wild animals then you may need to be weeded out of the flock.

Yup Max is right silly UVA students I have long said they teach them everything except how to think for themselves. The students were treated for rabies so they will be fine. The rabid fox that bit the silly girl is likely dead definitely dead if it was rabid. So why trap and kill this healthy fox? Uva has to come up with something poor martyr fox. I think the original fox has been infected with numerous std's after biting a UVA student and died of genital warts on his mouth and snout.

According to NBC 29 this morning the ONLY way to test for rabies on a fox is to euthanize it?! Why not shoot it with a tranquilizer and test it by that. The fox caught isn't necessarily the one they were after and if it was not rabid it should not be killed. Tranquilize it, test it, if it's not rabid let it go free. if rabid then kill it.

if that fox bit me, I'd killed it on spot! DEAD!

Typical local government: "Well, we could take some blood to see if it has rabies, then if it doesn't, we can take it to one of those animal conservatories. First we need to set up a committee on what animal conservatory we should take it to, then we should set up another committee to see how efficient the first committee is, then let's set up another committee to...Heck, this will take years, reminds me of that meadow creek parkway...lets just kill the fox, test it for rabies, either way, we're gonna look bad...we should just get it over and done with."

I think you forgot to add "The Rutabega" label to this story.

I was followed by a fox on UVa grounds 10 years ago. I called the UVa police, and reported it, and they blew it off. "That just happens" they said. It is not something that should just happen. That is completely against normal fox behavior, and its about time that UVa took seriously the dangers of foxes with no fear of humans prancing around the middle of 18000 students. A normal fox would never allow itself to get close enough to a person for any sort altercation. Hell, a normal fox wouldn't even let you see it. So UVa has a problem, and they are trying to deal with it. Is it perfect? No, but at least they aren't ignoring it.

The SPCA has duties beyond protecting one fox, if there is rabies in charlottesville, people need to know, and additionaly trapping would need to be done, people warned.

quote: "ââ?¬Å?It’s a shame to kill this animal to make it look like the authorities are doing something to protect the public,” says Crozet nature writer Marlene Condon...."

That pretty well sums it up.

The only crime this particular fox committed was stupidity. Stupid enough to think they he had come across a free meal, and then enter a metal cage to get to it. If the fox was rabid and had bitten people a week ago he would be dead by now.

The question I have is how many more are they going to capture and kill? If I was Steve Colvin, I would be milking this thing for all it's worth. And the rest of the 'authorities" will get their 15 minutes of fame in the media as they make it appear as if they're actually doing something.

rab, you forgot one step in the process. Paying a wildlife expert $125,000 to come in and capture the fox. :)

Some of the commenters above neglected to realize there is no indication this was the same fox that "assaulted" students a few weeks ago. None. "A fox" does not equal "the fox." By that poor logic, we'd have to kill every fox in town we manage to capture: first, because it might have rabies; second, because it might have/might one day steal a sweater or defend its territory.

The SPCA of Charlottesville should be ashamed of itself. They will not be getting any more donations from me, as long as it is their policy to do whatever they are told. In my mind, their role in our community is (or should be) to speak on behalf of animals: to stand up for them, defend them when necessary. On both counts, they failed. FAILED!

quote: "if that fox bit me, I’d killed it on spot! DEAD!"

How exactly would you accomplish this?

I like Britney. If the tabloids follow'd me around everywhere. Ha! It wouldn't be very foxy.

The SPCA should have displayed the GUTS and sensibility to cage, feed, and watch the creature for a few weeks. Then, they should have released it. My guess, the fox was OK. If so, the SPCA looks like a wimp and I don't trust them. The SPCA claims to be an advocate for all animals. I'm unsure of their true colors at this point.
One more thing, the citizens of Charlottesville should be prevented from adopting cats from the SPCA and then turning them outside to roam the city neighborhoods. These cats are much more vulnerable to catching diseases such as rabies and they bother other people and wildlife. Shame on the SPCA for turning a head and shame on the City of Charlottesville for allowing cats to roam at will. The cat owners are lazy, cruel, and inconsiderate and the SPCA and city are clueless.

plop, I think you're overreacting here a tad. But I will also say this... I haven't thought much of the local SPCA and the way they now operate since Mike Forman left as director. I have no idea what took place, but to me it seems as if he was pushed out the front door by somebody who wanted his job.

County Farmer, I know you are correct about the UVA lab. In fact, it makes me ill to think of it. The local SPCA should speak up on this issue too, But then we are talking $$$ and politics with UVA, so they will just ignore it. I agree, it was a shame to lose Mr. Forman. He didn't play favorites in helping the animals and he was willing to procecute whomever if he saw neglect or abuse. I wish they would ask Forman to return. The SPCA could use his common sense approach.

The last time I did a FOI request, the records were "accidentally" destroyed. Didn't take a mental giant to figure out the records were devastating to the Albemarle County Police and 2 of their rouge cops. I would have been better off paying an employee $5,000 to sneak the records out the back door to me.

To all the people in glass houses...
It is truly amazing to read so many self-righteous posts about the euthanasia of a fox. Replace the fox with a snake and 3/4 of you wouldn't even care. All you faux-Thoreauian, wanna-be Marlene Condonites should take a close look at your own direct and, more importantly, indirect impacts of wildlife and the environment as a whole. That warm feeling you get when you donate to the Sierra Club does not free you from your own accountability. Many of of you seem passionate about widlife, an admirable trait, but you should really focus on that energy on something bigger than complaining about the SPCA or the *necessary* removal of the suspected fox. It's the way things work.

OK. Way too much could go wrong if you attempted to discharge a firearm in a polulated area. :)

quote: " was followed by a fox on UVa grounds 10 years ago. I called the UVa police, and reported it, and they blew it off. ââ?¬Å?That just happens” they said."

Back up just a minute please. Who did you speak to, a dispatcher or a real cop? There is a HUGE difference ya know? If you spoke to a dispatcher and didn't like their opinion, you should have asked for a second opinion from a real cop. For whatever reason, people tend to believe a dispatcher's word is the last word. It's not. You can request to speak to a real cop or a cop supervisor.

i don't believe the fox stole a sweater why would you have one in 90 degree heat that was a lie and now these prank stories have caused the death of the fox no proof the the wahoos were even bitten and if so it was a cat or a ground hog foxes are too fast they need dogs to chase them and you ridge a hourse to catch up to them

I really think it would be a good idea to round up all the fox's that are brave enough to come out in the middle of town in the middle of the day. What ever they do with them they did.

quote: ââ?¬Å?if that fox bit me, I’d killed it on spot! DEAD!”

How exactly would you accomplish this?

I'm a ninga with a nunchucka!

I break his neck, then stuff him and put him in my bar next to my wax figure of brittney spears. yeah! and shes' naked!

Woof: The SPCA can not legally quarantine, isolate or hold wildlife or it will come under prosecution from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which has same police powers as State Police. The organization's mission is clear and specific as stated on its website. While the SPCA cares deeply about wildlife, it's day-to-day work is focused on domestic animals with zero of its mission focused on wildlife.

The SPCA could have told animal contral and the health dept. that it would not euthanize the fox and to take it elsewhere. Had that occurred, the SPCA would have been accused of forcing the fox to die a violent death by refusing to provide a humane approach to the situation.

JBECKHAM, The SPCA should have publicly advocated for not doing a dumb random trapping. They could have advised those doing the trapping to release non threatening or healthy looking wildlife. My lord, what is the point in catching one poor little fox in order to set an example or make a MACHO point? If the fox is rabies free, the killing was in vain.
I spoke with a rep at the va wildlife center. I was told by him the healthy appearing fox should have transported there by the Charlottesville SPCA or police so they could monitor and make the decision! So the SPCA goofed big time! The death could have been avoided, unless the fox developed sickness. Stop spreading misinformation. WE ARE NOT hearing the whole truth it seems.

The trapper that used a secret family musk recipe probably caught the fox in the county and brought it in to the university because he was being paid to catch a fox. What are their plans now? How many more fox will be trapped and terrified and killed in order to satisfy the paper pushers. What happens to the kits/pups that these fox are trying to feed and protect? The only thing these organizations( UVA, SPCA, ASPCA, etc.) understand is money, so if you are against this practice of indiscriminate extermination of wildlife such as was done in this case I suggest you go online or call the paper pushing administrators of these organizations and tell them you will no longer support them unless this practice ceases immediately.

@ Steve, thanks for the info. If the original fox was rabid, then it is long dead by now. There's no need for any ongoing hysteria from the Health Dept, or anyone else for that matter. If a person is bitten or scratched by ANY animal, including someone's pet, the first course of action is to thoroughly clean the wound. Depending on the depth of the wound, that will most likely kill any contagion. Rabies usually takes, at very least, 10 days to show up in a person. Within that time period, the animal would have exhibited clear signs and died. So there's a grace period before the rabies vaccine needs to be administered.

Since the poor grey fox was trapped days after the student was chased, and showed zero signs of illness, there was no need for Dr Peake to order it to be killed. In doing so, she showed an appalling lack of knowledge about rabies.

@Jeff, oh we're aware of it!

How long does it take for the lab to determine if the fox was rabid? Seems to me, as people were bitten, we would know the answer by now???

When was the last time you been in a state funded class room. It is cold and girls are cold anyway.

Bottom line: The health dept was gonna kill that fox, with or without the SPCA. Without the SPCA that fox was going to either be shot or tazed to death. I volunteer at the SPCA and attest to the integrity and responsibility of all on the staff there. The SPCA provided the most humane aspect to this story. IF the SPCA had not been involved you would have been reading a headline like "Fox Meets Violent Death at End of Gun Barrel" or "Fox Tazed to Death". I know for a fact the SPCA has been trying to persuade the city and health department to consider more humane ways to dealing with these kinds of situations.

The local Spca claims it is a no kill site. Someone I know very well heard of a ferral tom cat brought to the Spca. She was told another trapped the cat, turned it in but mentioned the cat "appeared" to bite. Long story short, the woman felt sorry for the cat and wanted to adopt it. She went to the Spca offering to adopt the cat, and was told by the administration, a flat out NO! The administrator said (because they were "told" the cat bit), it would be killed.
The woman pitched a fit and made a scene in front of the right people. The administrtor caved and let her adopt the cat.
Lo and behold, after being neutered, loved, dewormed, etc., the cat is a perfect loving beautiful pet. It even allows the owner to clip its nails, and without biting. How do i know all of this? Because the cat is MINE.
The sad reality, our local (no kill) SPCA gave up on this beautiful animal and condemned it to death. As I put the cat in the car that day, I'll never forget smelling what I thought was the horrible stench of the other poor animals being incinerated that very day.

In all fairness, the spca does some things right. They do save many animals. I also commend the hardworking staff and volunteers. The problem, there is obvious room for improvement. Our local spca board and administration turns a head way too many times. I'm afraid this is a result of politics as usual. Certain situations are excused or ignored because of $$$$. Such is truly unacceptable. The Wildlife Center Of Virginia should have been asked to take over in this case. They are expert in handling such cases.

Travel lite, why don't you just go travel to and stay in the outer space?!? You're the dumbest and most ridiculous moron I've ever read! Mother fathers like you need to be euthanized

Well Beckham, I have no objection to the SPCA offering cremation services for your long lived dog of 17. I also offer my sympathy to you as an owner. I continue to be sickened by the SPCAs' willingness to kill a seemingly healthy young fox OR my beautiful and thriving cat, as they pushed hard to accomplish! The Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA should equally bestow compassion toward all animals. Beckham, sorry, but that isn't happening.
My sleeping gorgeous cat is now curled up and smiling after receiving his lunch. If not for swift intervention, he would be ashes in the wind! Pathetic and an embarrassment for our region.
As I hear,there are many similar stories out there too. SO stay tuned, the SPCA had better get an act together.

JBECKHAM, Why don't you answer gasbag's question? Or maybe the SPCA keeps the methods for killing secret.
This cat story is so terrible and I'm sure it is true.
Unsure who you talked with at the va wildlife center. The person I talked with was not in agreement with the SPCA tactics. I was told the SPCA fell to pressure from the authorities. My donation and trust will go with the wildlife center.

I've socialized and tamed ferals. Some just aren't tame-able, and with those success is simply that it won't run away when you're around.

If you don't try to touch a feral cat then it will leave you alone. If it "nips" you likely you deserved it because you weren't respecting it's space. However as it's feral it's much more likely to scratch you than "nip." It's called "feral" for a reason.

Further. All cats neutered or non, socialized tamed, etc, will "nip" - use teeth without breaking skin as a way of saying, "Okay that's enough." To whatever the activity you were engaged in when it did that.

it hard for the wild-life not to bump into a whahoo now and then there must be over 20 thousand around town, the fox i saw was smiling and loven that wendy's burger and the fox may be out in the day because the wahoos have kept him up all night

That one comment is really distrubing had not thought about them going overboard and killing a whole lot more foxes around uva, that would be too bad...suppose you will kill all the wild boar and the little white miniture goats that roam wild at uva next

The SPCA is following a legal order from the Health Department. That is their function. Stop throwing them under the bus and understand the process.


I would love to go to outer space I think that would be awsome, I'd take my all my wax ladies, my stuffed fox, my keggeratter, my ten person hooka and I'd be off.

I'd Stand on the MOON and moon you! with my hooka in one hand and my world record biggest ever plastic cup in the other and I shout UP YOURS PRISSY KITTEN! Only if I had a ship haaped like a boob with a fox head on the front.

Let me begin by saying that the SPCA and Voices for Animals does a great job with their spay and neuter programs that makes it affordable for folks to capture and bring in their feral cats etc. The SPCA should have asked to be kept out of the news on the fox issue realizing there would be a backlash of public opinion. I believe the powers to be at UVA pressed the issue much like they would have if a human animal had been preying on the college kids. I suppose the result would have been different if some human animal had bitten a couple of college students though. It would have probably been quarantined and not killed.

Unfortunately, not much has been said about mankind's encroachment upon these poor animal's habitat making it more and more difficult for them to find food for themselves and their offspring that effectively forces them to depend on man's garbage and handouts for their existence. No wonder that in this setting there will be some human-animal encounters such as occurred at UVA. The point is; should mankind kill every shark, every bear, every snake, (I think you get the point) because a human comes out the worst for the encounter. Eventually there will only be humans and Soylent Green.


It's clear from some of the comments--including yours--that people do not understand feral cats very well. Ferals and semi-ferals tend to avoid people: they do not present a danger to children or adults, unless, as I mentioned before, there is a lack of common sense in dealing with them. Children need to be taught that there are risks involved interacting with ANY animal, domestic or wild. Parents are responsible for teaching their children to respect animals and treat them gently and cautiously.

Good for you for adopting a former feral cat! If your cat had not been sterilized through the local trap-neuter-return program, it is likely she would not have survived long enough to even meet you. She probably would have had at least of few litters of homeless kittens, very few of whom would have lived to reach their first birthdays. She may have ended up being trapped and taken to a shelter, where, if she acted aggressively the way terrified animals often do, she would have been killed. Would this have been a better fate for her than being spayed and vaccinated and allowed to continue her life, albeit an imperfect one? Whose life is perfect? Is yours? Certainly, wild animals do not live perfect lives. Raccoons, skunks, and foxes all have parasites, spend a lot of their time searching for food, and do not have long lifespans. Should we trap and "euthanize" all wild animals because they have parasites and might not live very long?

Look, trap, neuter, and return is not a ideal solution. I wish there weren't any cats living on the streets. I'm in favor of cats being adopted into homes. More power to people like you who are willing to make the effort to tame a feral cat. But what about all the feral cats out there that no one wants to deal with? The only answer to the overpopulation of cats--domestic and feral--is through sterilization. TNR has been proven the most humane and effective way to reduce feral cat populations over time. I have personally seen the benefits of trap, neuter, and return in several colonies of feral cats. If the entire colony is sterilized and any kittens or tameable adults are removed for rehoming, the breeding stops. The population decreases through natural attrition. The feral cat caretakers I've met in this area are very dedicated to caring for their feral colonies; many of them feed the cats twice a day and monitor them closely for any signs of illness or injury. Cats living in managed colonies are hardly "suffering in Charlottesville." In fact, I think many ferals lead much better lives than some housecats.

One other important point. All cats sterilized through a TNR program like Voices for Animals' are vaccinated for rabies. Vaccinating domestic animals is crucial to reducing the spread of rabies. A vaccinated domestic dog and cat population creates an immunlogical barrier between wildlife and humans. Whether you dislike cats or not or agree or disagree with TNR, it seems logical to support any effort to increase the number of vaccinated animals in our community.

By the way, the CASPCA is holding a low-cost rabies vaccination clinic at the end of September!

revolver, I just wish there was a way to neuter and perhaps take ferals to a farm barn to live. I don't believe it is appropriate to dump colonies of cats into city neighborhoods. In fact, I think it is cruel and inconsiderate. All of those cats are probably eating the baby rabid foxes.


I will, in fact, tell you that feral cats can be re-trapped and vaccinated for rabies every three years. Voices for Animals offers FREE rabies boosters for ferals at the organization's spay/neuter clinics. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

What makes you think Voices and the SPCA don't care about wildlife? Fewer free-roaming cats (through s/n) equals fewer small mammal and bird casualities. I could easily accuse YOU and other human beings of not caring about wildlife. Human beings are responsible for a lot more death and destruction in the animal kingdom than cats. Why not fight habitat destruction, pesticide use, automobile operation, and intentional cruelty by humans? Blaming cats is just wrongheaded.

As I said before, good for you for taking in some former ferals. I wish there were more people willing to do the same.


You cannot see the forest for the trees. Would you rather have no free spay/neuter program for free-roaming cats, with unvaccinated cats roaming around reproducing and creating even more homeless cats that kill wildlife, or a sterilization program through which the population is reduced (and fewer birds and mammals you think are worthy of life are killed) and cats are vaccinated at least once? Rabies vaccine has been demonstrated to have a MINIMUM duration of four years in cats. Research indicates that the chances of a dog or cat developing rabies in the United States that has had one rabies vaccination is less than one in eight million.

You suggestions re: ordinances, prosecutions and background checks are unrealistic. Where will all the money and manpower hours for these prosecutions and background checks come from? We can't even get local prosecutors to take cruelty cases seriously. Not going to happen.

Huh? What are you even talking about? Which authority is it that's saying we have to choose between cats and birds? You could just as easily say, what's it gonna be, birds or people? or how about birds or glass windows? or birds or cars? maybe even birds or foxes? what about foxes or people?

@ plop, Voices doesn't own any cats, so it's completely erroneous to create the impressions that they are "Voices' cats." They are told about cat colonies that are running loose un-neueterd and un-vaccinated, and they take on the huge responsilbility and expense to have them taken care of medically. Many volunteers look after the cats as best as possible and they are trapped and taken care of if they become sick or wounded-- often at the volunteers expense. And yes, many of them ae re-vaccinated. This is all far preferable to sitting around cutting hardworking volunteers down on the internet while doing nothing to help.

Many pet owners don't take such good care of their animals, so I applaud Voices for doing such a huge job year round.

Did you hear about the big colony that was living at Southwood? It took a long time, but they managed to get every one of those cats trapped, neutered and spayed, and vaccinated. That's an enormous undertaking, but they did it! Once again, Voices stepped in and took care of a problem created by OTHER people. The solution is not to criticize a volunteer organization because they are doing good. The solution is to ask yourself how you can help stop feral populations, which will cut down on wild animal deaths, and cut down on disease etc.

It is impossible for for me to believe all Voices'cats can be rounded up and revacinated.
OK, let me offer a suggestion for stopping cat overpopulation and improving the accountability of owners. THE SPCA should petition to FIX the local laws. Treat cat owners just as dog owners are handled. Fine them if their cats are running at large. Make them buy a city or county rabies tag. Prosecute if cat owners refuse to assume responsibility for their pets and spay them. Do a background check before adopting cats out. If folks are in debt, they CAN'T AFFORD to own pets.
Since this piece is about wildlife, I'd be interested to hear Ms. Condon's take on the issue of allowing cats to run loose. My guess, she would agree outside cats are detrimental to wildlife. And the research cited here is unconvincing and imcomplete. No wonder cats are grabbing sweaters. Feral cats at UVA are gobbling up their food!

@VOR, Last I saw, there were plenty of both birds and cats. Many domesticated cats are let outdoors to play every day. What do you propose to do about that? Snakes kill baby birds and squirrels too. What's your "ultimate solution" for them?

At least VFA is doing something proactive to stop the colonies from increasing. That, in and of itself, will save countless bird lives. You don't want to imagine what an ungodly problem you'd have on your hands if they weren't working so hard to nip this in the bud.

Once again, precious few solutions, and zero work, but lots of complaints.

Marlene Condon is not an ecologist nor a wildlife manager. She is a gardener.

I have a problem with Voices cutting,clipping the ears of these poor ferals before they are released. The poor cats have enough to endure without being maimed for life. Some of these ear jobs ruin the look for the cat. If the cats are fed, cared for, and revacinated as revolver claims, why add insult to injury? How about a tatoo instead? This practice makes my friends and me cringe. Once again, some of the results I've seen are truly horrible.
Keep us posted. Is the fox rabid?

Revolver, excuse me, but I have personally spoken with wildlife experts. They agree with me here. Many groups oppose roaming, outside cats, including the local Monticello Bird Club.

Why are interested in Ms. Condon's opinion and not an ecologist's? Just because she regularly voices her opinion, doesn't mean she is the most informed person available.

I can't even get into the number of reasons why "the last you saw there were plent of birds and cats" is an absurd statement to make. I guess the last you saw, the climate wasn't changing?Songbirds are undeniably suffering a precipitous decline across the world. Cat depredation is a relatively minor, but manageable factor. To all the domesticated cat owners, I would suggest they look into the CATSindoors program to learn the importance of keeping you cat inside. And yes, there are many other avian predators out there, all of which are more successful hunters due to the massive loss of contiguous habitat.

And no, I don't think that protecting songbirds is the most important aspect of environmental conservation, but the actions taken to do so (i.e., land preservation, riparian buffers, conservation easements...) have a large effect on reducing out impacts.

Stray cats roam UVA grounds and nearby more than other city neighborhood BECAUSE immature, hormonal, irresponsible, uncaring UVA students adopt them at the SPCA and then too often abandon them. And yes,the large population of feral cats (UVA), sadly must compete for the food of Mr. and Mrs. Fox and family. No wonder the foxes are hungry and upset. The SPCA should be able to put two and two together.

The Revolver Guy is correct. At least Voices for Animals is doing SOMETHING to reduce the population. Until they started their program, nobody was even addressing this problem. All of you who are criticizing their hard work-- why don't you list all the things you're personally doing to reduce the populations of feral cats in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties. Are you personally responsible for spaying, neutering, and vaccinating HUNDREDS of cats every year? Do you have ANY idea how many births they've prevented?

Think about that for a moment. Ponder how many litters a cat can have per year, and then how many litters each of the resulting kittens would subsequently have. So, exactly how bad would our feral cat population be now if groups like VFA hadn't been performing this service for the benefit of everyone in this area.

Plop, Duhhh, and Suggest: what would you have them do? Place the feral cats into some sort of penitentiary? Do you have room for them in your house? Does anybody you know have that kind of room? We're talking thousands of cats! How many barns would that be, and exactly how many volunteers would it take to find the new homes willing to accept them? And where precisely would the cats stay while they were waiting for these new homes to materialize?

Nice of you to complain about others, but offer no realistic solutions to reducing the feral populations. When you've stood on your feet hour after hour, month after month, for years, spaying, neutering, and vaccinating other people's unwanted animals, then you can criticize the people who ARE doing something. Until then, come up with a more VIABLE solution or hush up.

I'm sure you're animal lovers, and compassionate people. But dealing with this 24/7 gives a more realistic perspective than adopting an occasional stray. Save your ire for the idiots who refuse to spay and neuter their dogs and cats.


Please see my post above. These kinds of arguments make no sense. Humans "negatively impact the environment" to a far greater extent than cats. What are you doing about it?

Just to clarify, TNR programs do not add any cats to areas. They decrease the number of cats. Wildlife adovcates should support this.

Voices and SPCA, realize everyone can improve, including YOU. The animal rights laws in this area are weak and can be improved. Stage a rally or protest at the SPCA if you know of cruelty cases the judges ignore. Believe me, that will shake them up! And we'll all be there. You, the SPCA and VOICES must go public with these cases or nothing will change. stop coddling these abusers of animals and take real action.

I suggest you stop by the taxadermist between breaking his neck and stuffing him! :)

Britney is OK. The tabloid authors and citizens who don't like her are simply jealous of her fame and money.

Jbeckham, the point is, the SPCA rolled over and allowed the local (show off officials,including UVA) to sponsor, pull off a publicity stunt! Everyone knows you can't fix the rabies problem by rounding up every fox in the area! I could understand killing the fox if it were foaming at the mouth or acting out. The fact is, this fox was not doing so. The SPCA could have isolated/monitored the animal for a time, or maybe asked the wildlife center to check it out. This situation ignores commmon sense. The SPCA fell for a stupid stunt.

They should have thrown the cats, dogs and that fox in the bag and dropped them off behind that chinese resturant and turned then into woocox.

The SPCA was in close contact with the Virginia Wildlife Center in Waynesboro during throughout this thing.

JBeckham, what exactly is this "humane" way of putting a fox down that you keep speaking of? Can you explain the process to us please? Unlike most dogs and cats, it seems to me thaT a fox is not going to go down without a fight to the finish.

Suggest:You may well have smelled an animal being cremated while you were there. We had our dog of 17 years cremated and memorialized at the SPCA, as do many people.

Your insinuation is the lowest of the several low and baseles posts.

THE local SPCA is getting away with MURDER! The SPCA group, along with your $$$ offerings, have been rightfully called into question.

Plop wrote> "Doesn’t the SPCA ââ?¬Å?get it” that feral or nonneutered cats may be prone to nipping folks unless they are socialized, tamed, and fixed."

This is not true. True feral cats are, like other wild animals, fearful of humans. They do not go around "nipping" people. That is, unless they are cornered and provoked by humans who lack common sense. The most sensible and effective approach to helping feral cats and curbing the population is to sterilize and return them to their outdoor homes. As other posters have noted, taking feral or even shy cats to the "no kill" SPCA is not a good option. They don't fare well there.

The UVA fox incident reminds me of William S. Burroughs' quote (quoting Brion Gyson): Man is a bad animal.

Randomly trapping foxes and killing them is irrational and pointless. I hope the student has started her rabies shots (if she was even bitten).

Human beings need to learn how to live with other animals. Respect them. Leave them alone.

Enough of this "Kill them! They might hurt somebody" mentality.

If rampant greed, self-obsession and stupidity warranted similar treatment, every oxygen gulping dupe at the Darden School would be waiting in line for some of the same medicine the fox got.

We realize most feral cats are fearful and avoid people. The problem, there are too many cats roaming the city of Charlottesville and the County. When a kid sees a kitty, he wants to pet it. Bad idea, if the cat is semi feral. Revolver, your suggestion to neuter and return domestic cats back into the wild is plain stupid! I know because I rescued one such cat. She had been spayed and ear clipped by the local VOICES program, and then released. It took me months to catch her. She had very little to eat while roaming the streets and narrowly escaped being hit by cars. After she was trapped, she was taken to a vet to be checked out. The poor cat was full of worms, had earmites, and needed nourishment. The vet shook his head in disbelief that an agency would release unowned cats to roam and suffer in Charlottesville. The cat is now healthy and well cared for, inside our home. It is a horrible plan to neuter,release cats. Many people do not like cats in their yards killing birds. Our area has leash laws for dogs, how about a law requiring cats to be kept on the owner's property and inside their home? Outside cats are a nuisance to others and they are also unsafe.
Sane One, the SPCA needs to develop some guts to challenge the out of touch health dept. The fox had no business being killed!
Anyone know if the fox was truly rabid? I would bet my $ the answer is NO.

It is really sad to see such a beautiful animal destroyed rather than returned to the wild. Yes, I can personally say "beautiful animal" as the gray fox was in the area of the Abbington Crossing Apts for approx. 3 weeks prior to these incidents at UVA. I have a bird feeder about 20 ft. from my patio door and my first encounter was face to face. He/she returned to this area almost daily and I was in awe of being able to be so close to such a beautiful animal. I always remained calm and the fox always seemed to be calm. I never approached it, but instead just enjoyed nature at a very close distance. I pray that there are foxes in heaven, as I would love to meet it again.

while driving back to DC going out of c'ville making the left for 20 north at night I saw a fox couple weeks ago but it was given food from the wendy's I think it was a double cheeseburger

Doesn't the SPCA "get it" that feral or nonneutered cats may be prone to nipping folks unless they are socialized, tamed, and fixed? No wonder the SPCA has no understanding for the wild animals being harrassed by UVA students. By God, the SPCA board and administration need some training, and fast. Then, they in turn should educate law enforcement and the public as to frightened animal behaviors, when their territory is invaded.

Marlene Condon displays much better sense and judgement regarding wildlife, than does our SPCA. The SPCA had better stick to managing puppies and kittens. This situation has proved to be way out of their league.

What I want to know now is how much it cost to bring in the expert to capture a fox that had done absolutely nothing wrong. I doubt the price tag will ever be revealed.

Well, the verdict is in. Another senseless death!

September 9, 2009

The gray fox trapped near Lambeth Field at the University of Virginia did not have rabies in its brain, said Dr. Lilian Peake, director of the Thomas Jefferson Health District.