Lost Arctic fox mix Jasper, who escaped his enclosure at Michael’s Farm in West Saugerties on Dec. 6, has still not returned home as of Dec. 20. According to owner Tammy Drost, multiple people, and even eye-witnesses from out of state, have contacted her regarding his whereabouts.
“Yes, I’m calling about the fox that’s missing,” reads the transcription of a voicemail from a woman in Boiceville left for Drost. “I think I saw him crossing the road going north down Piney Point Road. Looks like he was running down the mountain and ran towards the stream area. I don’t have any other information, but thought you might like to know. He looks very scared.”
Possible sightings have been reported in Margaretville, Washingtonville and even from a caller in Pennsylvania. Closer to home, the fox was spotted by a Saugertiesian this week near the In The Sticks deli in West Saugerties.
The five-year-old, 10-pound animal was bottle-fed by petting zoo employee Drost as a puppy, and has since been raised entirely in captivity; Drost worries that he may be harmed by a hunter or that his friendliness will be mistaken for rabidity.
“My foxes are the only animal I currently have that were not ‘rescues.’ I have owned ranch foxes for almost six years now,” said Drost. “Ranch foxes are a domesticated breed that are legal to own in New York for farming purposes. To me, they are no different from the various dogs I have taken in — they are happy, healthy and love people. They are never hungry or thirsty like their wild counterparts. It is not a bad life, just different,” said Drost this week.
“I am so thankful for those who know me and some who don’t who are trying to help me find Jasper … In a world where it seems people have forgotten empathy, I am teaching children [via my petting zoo] that even the smallest animals deserve affection and respect,” she added.
In several comments on our initial article, some readers criticized Drost for keeping a wild species in captivity and allowing it to breed.
“To any of my critics: schedule a tour; I would be happy to show you around [so you can] make your own judgment rather than blind accusations [of animal cruelty].”
The fox should not be handled directly, and instead cornered in a shed or barn if found; text or call (845) 399-8645 with any information you may have on Jasper’s whereabouts, or to schedule a visit to the farm.