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Arlington police search for person setting illegal traps to catch foxes

Illegal animal traps set in Arlington, Lexington
Illegal animal traps set in Arlington, Lexington 02:07

ARLINGTON - Arlington police are on the hunt for the person responsible for using illegal traps to catch wild foxes. The devices left one animal permanently disfigured.

The injured fox is named Phoenix and is recovering at Newhouse Wildlife Rescue. Police were able to chase him into someone's garage. It took three people to remove the jaws of the trap from his leg. He is one of two foxes to step into these traps. The other fox hasn't been caught but has been seen.

Arlington police say metal clamping traps like these were banned in the 1970s. The two traps were spotted in a mile radius near the Arlington-Lexington line.

Animal trap Arlington
Illegal animal trap found in woods on Arlington-Lexington line CBS Boston

"They are very cunning, so you can't catch them," said Arlington Police Captain Richard Flynn, talking about their pursuit of the injured animals. "A few sightings of that animal in a trap called a leg hold trap. It's hard to imagine someone would be doing that these days."

Surgeons were forced to amputate Phoenix's leg. The rescue is amazed at how quickly he is recovering and moving around. He is currently sporting a knitted sweater to protect him from biting his wound. The plan is to release him into the wild if he passes a few tests.

"After he is healed from his surgery, he will be put in a much larger enclosure where he will be allowed to run and regain his strength, and go through several hunt tests," said Jane Newhouse, Founder of Newhouse Animal Rescue. "He is jumping up on things like he has been functioning on three legs his whole life."

Arlington Lexington fox
Phoenix had a leg amputated after he stepped in an illegal trap in the Arlington-Lexington area CBS Boston

Newhouse says it is more common than people think to see animals in the wild with three legs. Often, they do the surgery themselves to free their limbs from traps.

"We have had foxes get caught in soccer nets number that end up losing a limb. A lot of times when in traps, they will self-mutilate to save themselves. They will remove their own leg with their own teeth to free themselves," said Newhouse. "There are a number of accounts of foxes living and thriving with three legs."

The Environmental Police are still investigating the case.

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