Save the endangered Shoe Fox!

Residents in a small town in Germany are up in arms (ok, maybe I should rephrase that–they’re mad) about a local fox with a kleptomania problem. Apparently, the fox has stolen over 100 pairs of shoes from local residents, who have a tradition of leaving them outside to ‘air’ overnight. Now, the townspeople want Count Rudolf Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, who owns the land on which the fox’s burrow was finally discovered, to pursue and shoot the fox. The Count is having none of this, and a legal battle promises to ensue. Here’s the article from the LA Times:

A fox in Föhren, Germany, hasn’t quite reached Imelda Marcos’ level yet, but her collection of more than 120 shoes certainly counts as excessive for an animal that doesn’t even wear shoes.

More than a year ago, residents of the small western German town began reporting that the shoes and boots they left on their doorsteps had gone missing. The identity of the shoe thief has been a mystery until recently, when a forestry worker found a stockpile of shoes in a fox’s den in woods near Föhren.

It’s unclear just what about the shoes holds such appeal for the fox, who’s believed to be a female with pups. One theory, given added weight because many of the newly located shoes have bite marks on the shoelaces, is that she intended the shoes to serve as toys for her pups.

“We found 86 shoes in the den and a further 32 in a nearby quarry where they like to play. That includes 12 or 13 matching pairs of shoes,” Rudolf Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, the local count, told the German news source Spiegel Online. Count von Kesselstatt had the found footwear laid out in his palace and invited the townspeople to come and reclaim their lost shoes and boots.

The count noted that, even after word spread of the fox’s thieving ways, more shoes had gone missing in the days before his Spiegel interview. Though he suspects she has more shoes tucked away in her den, neither he nor the people of Föhren seem inclined to disturb her by going in to retrieve them. Taking a common-sense approach to the situation, he simply said, “People should simply make sure they take their shoes in at night.”

Föhren residents haven’t yet given the fox a name, but Spiegel kindly pitched in with a suggestion — naturally, it’s Imelda.



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