A fox is an animal "wild by nature," and in such an animal a qualified property right can be acquired by reducing it to possession and keeping it, if alive, in custody. If a captured wild animal is so tamed that it loses its wild nature to such an extent that it will recognize the home provided for it by its owner, and has, when absent from it animum revertendi, or the intention of returning thereto, a temporary departure by it from the immediate control of its owner does not terminate his property rights therein.
The owner obtained two silver foxes from Canada with the intention of breeding them. One of the foxes escaped by chewing its way through its cage. The fox was found approximately 12 miles away. The finder killed and skinned the fox. The owner brought an action for replevin to recover the fox hide. The trial court entered judgment for the owner. The finder appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Should the action for replevin of the escaped fox prosper?
The Court held that the evidence indicated that the fox was not so tame that it lost its wild nature to such an extent that it would recognize the home provided for it by the owner. Because the fox had no apparent intention of returning the owner's property rights were terminated upon the escape of the fox.