For The Tribune


A fox wandering Columbus that was covered in mange and suffering from severe eye infections has recovered with the help of Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators.

The fox was set free this weekend along with a baby fox rescued earlier after it fell into an abandoned well on an area farm, said Kathy Hershey, who operates Utopia near Hope.

The fox had frequented the Garland Brook area in Columbus where it had lived for several years, Hershey said, finding abundant food there and co-existing with humans without complaint.

However, at some point, the fox was afflicted with an advanced case of mange, which caused him to lose his fur, and to develop several infections, which spread to his eyes, Hershey said.

The fox was treated at Utopia for about three weeks before regaining its health.

“He looks perfect,” Hershey said.

Hershey believes it was a reaction to the infection that caused the fox to leave its neighborhood and begin foraging elsewhere in Columbus.

The fox was seen in parking lots of fast-food restaurants, trotting along Central Avenue and at one point was in the Columbus Police Department parking lot. Some said the fox apparently liked the hamburger buns sometimes found in the fast-food parking lots.

Animal control officer Travis Anderson captured the fox the week of July 3 in the area of 23rd and Midway streets, after the fox ran into a culvert and an officer blocked one side, and a helper blocked the other, said Kevin Konetzka, animal control officer.

About Utopia

Where: Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators is located on about 9 acres at 18300 E. County Road 200N in Clifty Township, east of Columbus

Owner: Kathleen Hershey

Type of business: The nonprofit wildlife sanctuary rehabilitates native Indiana animals that become injured through coming into contact with humans or domestic animals.

Types of animals: Animals and birds that are treated at the facility include cottontail rabbits, songbirds, skunks, box turtles, squirrels, opossums, birds of prey, groundhogs, bats, waterfowl, and a limited number of foxes, raccoons and coyotes.

Animal treatment: Animals and birds treated at the facility are rehabilitated and released back to their original territories. They may stay at Utopia for 180 days or less.

Educational opportunities: The sanctuary also provides educational programs for children and adults, providing up-close experiences with animal ambassadors. The ambassadors are 15 permanently injured, non-releasable animals which stay at the facility under state and federal permits for educational purposes.

Hours: Utopia is not open to the public without an appointment. The facility does invite the public to the facility for special educational events and hosts educational events for students and children.

For more information: Call 812-546-6318 or visit

Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.