As Arroyo Grande mourns the unexpected loss of a fox that had become a pseudo-mascot for the Village, residents are bonding together to memorialize the furry critter through decorations, painted rocks and even a planned candlelight vigil next month.
The fox, which stole hearts for its playful interactions with humans and pets, was trapped and killed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services department last week after a complaint that it had killed a resident’s chickens.
The community responded to the news with outrage, with many questioning what could have been done differently to prevent the fox’s death.
Now Arroyo Grande residents are hoping to remember the fox, which many have taken to calling Foxy, by lighting a candle for it at the Centennial Park gazebo at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 11.
The vigil was coordinated via the “Remembering our Village Fox” Facebook page; members of the community use the page to post pictures, videos and memories of the furry critter. The group had 294 members as of Tuesday.
Other efforts to memorialize the fox are underway: The gazebo in the Village is draped in purple, gray and fox-print ribbons, while others like resident Pam Dean Forsythe have created small tokens of remembrance, including as painted rocks hidden throughout the Village and creek area.
Forsythe said she hand-painted 40 rocks with little foxes on them and hid them around the area Monday.
“My sister is involved in a rock painting Facebook group,” Forsythe said. “People hide the rocks in town, and when the rocks are found they are posted on Facebook. People of all ages enjoy the rocks. I thought I’d memorialize our sweet fox by hiding the rocks around the Village, hopefully to bring someone a little happiness.”
Group members also have discussed fundraising for some sort of physical memorial.
“Folks would like to do a memorial for the fox,” resident Vivian Krug-Cotton told The Tribune. “I’ve written the city; I doubt anything permanent would be allowed, but I would think they would agree to a short-term memorial. I’m ordering either an acrylic or metal photo of our fox just in case a couple of the people with the ideas can make something to hold it, and I get a go-ahead from the city.”
Krug-Cotton said she hopes the response to the fox’s story will inspire others to examine what could have been done differently and raise awareness of policies regarding wildlife relocation and interactions.
“Perhaps this will bring about change in the system,” she said. “I can tell by dozens of the posts that people do not understand that if authorities are called that wildlife is not relocated, but killed. Perhaps this is a wake-up call to everyone how this system works, and that it is time for a change.”