Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Duluth's Wildwoods Rehabilitation volunteers say the fox family originally consisted of a mother, father, and six babies.
But a few weeks ago the father fox was killed by a car.
Afterward, the mother relocated the den to the Park Point bay side about 15 feet away from the busy traffic along Minnesota Avenue.
Soon after that volunteer Ginger Juel says the first kit was also struck and killed by a car.
"There was no attention being drawn to this, really, until the first fox got hit," said Juel, Friday.
Just days later, another baby was hit and injured and Wildwoods worked with neighbors to figure out options.
After consulting the property owner, Juel says the decision was made to put up a temporary fence around the den in hopes it would act as a visible safety barrier for the curious kits.
But on Thursday the St. Louis County Land and Minerals Department took down the fence, claiming a permit was needed to leave it up.
"By that point there was a lot of public outcry online," said Juel, referencing the comment explosion on their Facebook page.
By Friday morning, and with the help of volunteers, the county re-installed the temporary fence and granted a permit until June 15th.
"The reason it's so important to keep the foxes there right now is because we have a baby fox in custody," said Juel. "He lost his vision, and ability to walk."
Juel says the goal is to reintroduce the other kit, who has now recovered through anti–inflammatory drugs provided at Wildwoods, back to its family early next week in the hopes that traffic slows down after the holiday weekend.
Until then neighbors who fought to keep the fence up, like Kathy Sahlberg who watches the family from her window, urge that people stay away from the den and let nature be nature.
"There [are] buses, and trailers, and boats, and people stopping constantly," said Sahlberg, standing by the fence, "getting their cameras out, getting out of their cars, walking all around them."
Juel hopes the kits will mature by the time the fence comes down but says they have a plan if the family isn't willing to move out of the precarious den by then.
"Putting a talk radio with NPR near the den will make them move," laughed Juel, "so that is our next course of action."
...to those at NPR, nothing personal.
If the foxes don't make the move to a new location, Juel says there is the "last resort" of capturing the kits and relocating them to the old den in the hopes that the mother will follow.