Crab fishermen already have their hands full with their day-to-day responsibilities. With a seemingly unlimited list of duties, they have little time for anything other than pulling in hauls of crab.
But Alan Russell and his crew knew they had to act when they saw an Arctic fox stranded on a mushroom-shaped iceberg tip in Canada. With no way of reaching land, the fox would perish without direct human intervention.
The skittish fox wouldn’t let Russell get close.
“We seen something on the ice. Wasn’t sure what it was,” Russell said to the CBC. “So we got up closer to it. It was a little fox, Arctic fox. And he wasn’t very big. He was soaking wet, and the gulls was trying to pick at him.”
Because the animal wouldn’t let the fishermen get close, they knocked the iceberg tip over, spilling the fox into the water. They immediately fished him out.
“He probably only had another day or so on the ice floe, or it would have foundered … he was in pretty hard shape because it was so cold in the water,” said Russell.
The crew did their best to accommodate the fox, but when he wouldn’t eat, they decided to make a stop at William’s Harbour to buy a few items that would make his stay more hospitable.
The crew put down sawdust in a plastic bin for the fox, and fed him Vienna sausages.
While the young fox initially refused to eat, it changed its tune once the crew presented him with a few Vienna sausages. The kit gobbled them down, much to the relief of the crew onboard the ship.
“He likes them,” said Russell.
They continued to nurse the fox back to full strength for the next few days while they were docked. Eventually, the fox grew comfortable around his rescuers because they were supplying him with food.
“He wasn’t aggressive at all,” Russell said. “After a while, when he was coming around, he liked us more, because we were feeding him. And he didn’t mind us after.”
Once the fox was lively and had regained its strength, the crew released him back into the wild.
“He looks a lot healthier now. He’s running around everywhere, so he should be pretty good to go now,” Russell said.
The last time they saw the fox, he was exploring the some old dog houses around William’s Harbour. The community was recently resettled in 2017, and the creature should be able to make a comfortable life for himself.
Russell believes the kit was standing on the piece of ice when it broke out and drifted off to sea. It’s unlikely the fox would have been able to survive if the crew hadn’t come along and rescued him.
“The way that the wind was, the ice was probably never going to go back into land. He’s a pretty lucky guy,” Russell said.