By NEIL RIDDELL
A DEAD fox was discovered in the North Mainland this week, presumed to have been brought into Shetland by an unknown party.
The fox, thought to be a young female, was found lying by the side of the road by Scatsta firefighter Ross Jamieson on Monday morning.
It has been sent to the Glasgow University Vet School by Scottish Natural Heritage where it will undergo an autopsy to try to determine the cause of death and establish if the animal has been living wild or in captivity.
Mr Jamieson said he spotted the fox while driving into Sullom Voe Oil Terminal shortly after 11am and was immediately struck by the fact that foxes are not native to Shetland, so he went back to investigate.
He said there was blood coming from the dead animal’s mouth, there was damage to both its front legs and it looked as if it may have crawled off the road after being hit by a vehicle.
Mr Jamieson took the fox to the Lerwick branch of SNH, where officer Glen Tyler said it looked as if it had been killed by a car.
“We’ve sent it away to find out what we can, to clear it up.
If they [the Vet school] can get the stomach contents, general condition, determine the cause of death, how long it had been dead, we can say what was likely, whether it was feeding wild,” Mr Tyler said.
He added there was no history of native foxes in the isles and that it was possible the fox had been brought into Shetland for a hoax, though that “seems a lot of trouble to go to”.
There have been previous unconfirmed sightings of foxes in Shetland on occasion, including rumours that one was spotted two or three years ago, but the most recent confirmed record is a dead animal found near Voe around 15 years ago.