Dead foxes found in El Charco

By César Arias

During the last weeks of June the Botanical Garden staff found several dead bodies of gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). This native species is in the process of rehabilitation in the ecological preserve. The cause of death has not been determined but all signs suggest poisoning. This could have been poison left directly for the foxes or indirectly by the foxes eating poisoned prey such as rodents. Without ruling out the possibility of a deliberate poisoning, the most likely assumption is the foxes ate dying rodents that were poisoned by a neighbor to prevent their presence.

This unfortunate collapse of the fox population in El Charco represents, above all, the unnecessary destruction of living beings that have found a habitat in the reserve. But also, paradoxically, the demise of the foxes will cause an increase in the population of rodents as the gray fox is perhaps their main natural predator. Animals all along the ecological chain, including mammals and reptiles and birds of prey are affected by this. The near complete disappearance of vultures in recent years in the San Miguel region also suggests an excess use of poisons. Some residents have also reported poisoning of domestic animals such as dogs and cats.

All life is linked together. We know that living things are inter-dependent and when one of the links in the chain gets disrupted for whatever reason, the rest of the chain feels the impact. Human beings have an oversized affect on the surrounding links and one way humans do this is by applying poisons to get rid of something considered “harmful”. Urban growth invades natural areas populated by a number of animals that play a role in the ecosystem. People’s lack of knowledge and fear of contact with wildlife can lead them to remove wildlife without understanding the larger consequences. When poison is put out it gets passed along the links in the chain, the effects accumulating as it goes.

We urge readers, particularly those who live in the vicinity of el Charco, to become aware of the consequences of these destructive practices and to act responsibly. If you find any dead animals or know of anyone putting out poison, please let us know. We also invite you to approach the Botanical Garden for guidance on how to control or manage wildlife without using poisons. There are many ways to live with the wildlife around us without causing them and us irreparable damage. Let’s help maintain the biodiversity that still exists around San Miguel, which sustains us and brings us such joy.

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