First, it was bears. Now, it's a fox: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has stepped in to help save a domesticated fox that was brought across state lines from Massachusetts and wanted back for possible euthanization.
"Once our office learned that Massachusetts officials were considering euthanization, Governor Sununu worked with (the Department of) Fish and Game to find an appropriate rehabilitation center in New Hampshire where it would remain safe pending health monitoring," a statement from Sununu's office said.
The fox, named Frankie, was raised by a family in Dracut and then released back into the wild, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. It was captured by a Massachusetts resident who brought the fox into New Hampshire to wildlife rehabilitator Frannie Greenberg, the agency said in a statement released Wednesday.
"He's very easy to fall in love with. He's like a big puppy dog at this point," Greenberg said Thursday at the Millstone Wildlife Center in Windham. "He was kept like a pet and very comfortable being a pet."
She said when the family who was raising Frankie realized that keeping a wild animal was illegal, they let the young fox go.
"This is an animal that doesn't know how to fend for itself, so it spent days crying trying to get back indoors."
That's when wildlife activists found the desperate animal and brought him to Greenberg's facility.
MassWildlife biologists and the Massachusetts Environmental Police "take seriously any instance where a highly habituated animal that could carry rabies has close direct contact with people and wild animals," according to the energy and environmental affairs statement. "Therefore, the agencies then requested that the fox be returned to Massachusetts to be euthanized and tested for rabies."
When Sununu heard the fox was wanted back, he had some concerns.
"They said, 'we have to kill it to see if it has rabies.' We said, 'well there are no symptoms of rabies,'" Sununu said. "I thought well that's just killing an animal for a science experiment."
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The Massachusetts agencies eventually decided to "respect the wishes of the State of New Hampshire" that the fox stay at the rehabilitation center, according to the statement.
"We're not going to be giving the fox back so it can be put down," Sununu said.
The 12-pound fox has been at the Millstone Wildlife Center for nearly two weeks, Greenberg said. He has been quarantined and has been vaccinated for rabies and distemper.
She said, "our fingers are crossed that maybe we can have a wild fox when we're done."
Greenberg is making it clear that Frankie is in this dilemma because of people and reminding everyone it is illegal to keep wild animals for pets.
"He's a beautiful specimen. He seems healthy. He should have a good life ahead of him, whether that is in the wild or here," she said.
In 2017, a mother bear and her cubs had been set to be euthanized after repeated problems with them feeding from trash and bird feeders culminated in two bears entering a home in Hanover. Sununu instead ordered them to be moved to far northern New Hampshire.