COLORADO SPRINGS — Memories are all Ashley Yeager has to hold onto now.
Yeager says she rescued Flash more than two years ago.
It’s the same red fox Colorado Parks and Wildlife seized and euthanized in late July.
Those agents calling Yeager’s rescue a kidnapping.
“My friend found him underneath his brother’s shed. All of his siblings were dead, and the mom has either died or abandoned them,” Yeager said.
Yeager says she called CPW.
“And they said just let nature take its course. Let it die, basically,” Yeager said.
But CPW agents are telling it differently.
“During our interview, she told our officers that it was found while hiking it Monte Vista, and that they had contacted the office in Monte Vista, who had told them to leave it where it was. And they had gone in and taken it anyway,” said Frank McGee, Area Wildlife Manager for CPW.
CPW says it’s always best to leave animals where they are found.
Sometimes you think they may have been abandoned and, in many cases, that isn’t true.
Yeager says her next calls were to rescue and animal sanctuaries..
“They were full, they weren’t taking foxes, different reasons, I wasn’t going to let him die. And so, I raised him,” Yeager said.
Flash the fox quickly became part of the family, playing with her cats and dog.
Flash was litter trained and ate cat food.
“I went to Tractor Supply and I got the distemper and the rabies vaccines. And I administered it myself,” Yeager said.
Yeager went online, sharing pictures and videos of Flash, recently posting about him on a private Facebook group.
“I was thinking you know, Flash brings so much joy to our lives that I really wanted to bring joy to other people’s lives as well,” Yeager said.
But Yeager says she never thought his life would be cut short.
“I’ve never met people that just have complete lack of compassion or empathy, or anything,” Yeager said.
She says CPW showed up at her door asking for Flash, saying if she didn’t hand him over, she could face fines and penalties.
According to CPW, anyone who has a wildlife animal without a license could face a fine of $100 and be charged with illegal possession of wildlife.
“They said they would evaluate him and see if he could be released. They didn’t, they euthanized him that evening,” Yeager said.
“The best outcome at that point, after it had been taken from the wild, would have been to transfer it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. We have wildlife rehabilitators all over the state that could have taken this animal in, raised it to a point where it could have survived on its own, and re-released it. And yeah, two months in, that might have been a possibility. Two years in it’s just too used to people. It would not have any way of feeding itself. And releasing it in the wild in a situation like that would have been tantamount to letting it stare to death,” McGee said.
CPW says diseases are also a big concern for them.
“And because it had been in contact with other people and pets, it needs to be tested. And unfortunately, the only way we can do that is to euthanize the animal,” McGee said.
“I was just overly threatened. It was so cold and so cruel, the way they did it,”
Now, Yeager says she wants the law changed.
“Flash never should have been killed and I just want to bring awareness to it. I want him to be remembered as the beacon for wildlife to live and to survive, whether it’s in somebody’s home or in the wild. I think that people should be able to save wildlife if they’re able to. Do I believe that every single person should have wildlife? No. But I don’t think that people should be condemned and animals should be put to death just because they’re wildlife,”