Category Archives: Fox Report

Gray Fox Report

 

Gray Fox Report for October 2018

Gray Fox Repopulation?

Submitted by William C. Leikam
President, CEO & Co-founder
Urban Wildlife Research Project
A 501 C (3) Nonprofit Corporation
wcleikam@gmail.com

Prior to October 2018, the last gray fox to pass through the baylands after the massive die-out of 2016 occurred at Trail Camera #9 – 02 – 04 & 05 – 2018 – Fox Hollow Gate – IMG-0013 – Tagged: Gray fox trotting back toward junction – See camera @ 12:06 AM. From then on, the eight trail cameras posted at the baylands recorded a red fox, the usual raccoons, opossums, and skunks. Additionally, there was an explosion of woodrats, jack rabbits, an ever-increasing number of field mice, lizards, gopher snakes, gophers, voles, both ground and tree squirrels and all other manner of critters that the keystone predator, the gray fox, had once fed upon. When the foxes lived there, they kept the environment at the baylands in systemic balance.

As the months pressed on, I sat here nearly every morning watching and tagging a multitude of 30-second video files of mostly the same critters day after day, wondering whether, on the next click, the next file would show a gray fox trotting through near Fox Hollow Gate. Right there, on that road passing the gate, all wildlife that either migrates or at certain times of the year disperses, between Pacific Shores in Redwood City and south around Sunnyvale, were naturally channeled through Fox Hollow. The geography of the riparian habitat dictated that the gray fox and other wildlife would travel there.

Knowing the cycles of the gray foxes, my expectations varied from month to month. For instance, in early May the pups are busy nursing and sleeping but by the end of the month, they are out exploring. July and into August these young foxes are romping and wrestling and dancing through life with siblings and with their parents. By mid-November and into December, the pups are ready to leave home to find an unclaimed territory and a mate. That’s what I had been waiting for.

At the same moment, there are gray foxes that are seemingly vagabonds. They are usually males but once-in-awhile a female will show up. They live freely and move from one region to the next during the course of a year. They never settle down. When they traveled through Fox Hollow, as they passed by those three trail cameras stationed at the gate, one or more of the cameras caught their image trotting through but they never stayed.

Early morning, dark, October twenty-second, 2018 on my computer screen at 5:37 a dark, grainy animal trotted through Fox Hollow. I stopped the video. I thought, “That looks like the trot of a gray fox.” It just moved with that certain, smooth rhythm. It trotted across the road, over by the Alkaline Salt Bush, and rapidly dissolved into the darkness. Grainy video; hard to really be sure I saw it right. I played it again, stopped it, looked, started it again looking for the tell-tale signs that it was either a gray fox or just one of the big feral cats that live in the region. Hesitantly, I tagged the video as a gray fox.

The following morning, October 23rd as I reviewed file after file, clicking on the next one, seeing an opossum cross the road, a raccoon with one eye followed by her juvenile cub and then I hit on file number eight and there it was: Urocyon cinereoargenteus the gray fox. Clear. There. I cried, “Yes, yes, yes, there it is!” It trotted toward the junction. I tagged it and set one copy aside.  I continued tagging the files. And then bingo at 8:36 PM another gray fox filled the video screen headed for the junction too, but it stopped and checked something off to its right. Finally, at 11:36 PM a gray fox passed back through coming from the junction to the gate traveling in the opposite direction from the other two sightings. It was impossible to tell whether or not this was a single gray fox, a couple of them, or three. Whatever the case, the issue becomes, “Will it remain in the region?” Only time and patience will tell.

So, if this signifies the return/repopulation of the gray fox to the baylands, I need to somehow measure their impact as they return the balance to the environment at the baylands. We not only need to see that in the short term, but we need to look at that in the long term too. When I talk with people about the foxes, they invariably want to know if the foxes have returned. I shrug and say, “I don’t know. We need to know more before we can conclude much of anything.”

Gray Foxes General Health

To date, gray fox has been seen in the Palo Alto baylands to date 23 October 2018.

Total Numbers Of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

Unknown.

 

Section II

Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project – Greg Kerekes & Bill Leikam

About a week ago, maybe a bit more now, I was interviewed on the trail while taking care of my trail cameras when Sheri Baer and I met at the end of Embarcadero Way and headed on out to set up my eight trail cams. She has written a feature article about what I do out there at the baylands. It will be available in their December edition. Check out Punch Magazine.

To find out more about us, search Urban Wildlife Research Project, UWRP, gray foxes, wildlife connection, linkages, corridors and several documentaries and clips on YouTube  

  1. Check out our Facebook page.
  2. If you haven’t had a chance to read at least some of the articles that have been written about our study of gray fox behavior and our corridor work, click on these links as they will take you to the source: Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy, and Greg Kerekes & URWP

————————————————————————————————————

Section III: Gray Fox, Baylands Goals

Within the permit that allows the Urban Wildlife Research Project to conduct its study of the behavior of the gray fox at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, the objectives covered are:

  • Monitoring of urban gray fox denning sites in Palo Alto Baylands.

This is being accomplished during the period when the gray foxes use a den site. It is one of the prime locations for gathering most of the behavioral data on the litter and for adults alike.

  • Assessment of status and population trends of Baylands urban gray foxes

Since November and December of 2016, there have been no resident gray foxes at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

  • Identification of habitat features that promote the presence of urban gray foxes

After considering this and talking with people who know how to restore habitats, we need to assess what kinds of plants, including the Alkaline Salt Bush, would grow best along the edge of the saltwater channel and alongside the marsh. We need to grow a permanent habitat that contains the corridors and plant it as soon as possible. We’ll keep an eye on this as this is a critical link between the southern region of the baylands and the northern region.

  • Assessment of reproductive success and identification of factors that promote successful reproduction

Open up the pinch-point along Matadero Creek by developing thickets that link one area to another, instead of the present “islands”.

  • Identification and assessment of possible dispersal travel routes.

Presently there can only be guesses as to dispersal travel routes. We intend to make this important question much more concrete when we attain our collaring/take/capture permit from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Until next month, I hope that your endeavors provoke thought, are productive, and are rewarding. Take care.

Sincerely,

Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
CEO & President,
Urban Wildlife Research Project
a Nonprofit 501 C3
UrbanWildlifeResearchProject.com


Gray Fox Report for September 2018

Facebook Foxes

Submitted by William C. Leikam
President, CEO & Co-founder
Urban Wildlife Research Project
A 501 C (3) Nonprofit Corporation
wcleikam@gmail.com

For this article, I will not use the actual names of the people involved. However, the events that transpired are all true.

Saturday, 9 June 2018 10:18 AM – First email sent by Barbara who works at Facebook – “Baby gray foxes were born under the deck of what’s called the Town Square which is an open courtyard with twenty redwood trees and a wooden deck located on the new portion of the Facebook campus.” Not only the new portion of the campus but this family of gray foxes lived on the garden roof, high above the parking lots and expressway below. The request began by asking who they should contact to have the pups removed from Town Square. In my reply, I pointed out that the pups would have to be trapped and that as such they would be traumatized. Then the separation of the pups from their parents would increase their trauma and we didn’t want to do that.

On August 8, 2018, we nailed down the day and time – August 10 at 10 AM – that I would meet with a team of three Facebook employees and the two women who designed and guided the planting of the rooftop garden. We would then take a tour of the 14.5-acre rooftop garden where the foxes live. In the process, I advised the Facebook staff on best practices under these circumstances.

I met Barbara in one of the lobbies where visitors are cleared through security. She asked, “Shall we take the stairs or the elevator?” I chose the elevator. When the door opened and we stepped out into the rooftop garden, I was stunned by the mature trees, the bushes, the flowers, all a garden masterpiece. I told Barbara, “Wow, this is ideal gray fox territory. Exactly what they love; all the bushes and trees.” I went on to explain the difference between a gray fox and red fox habitat and that I called the gray foxes that I studied, the “little bush-dogs” because they prefer living in the brush out of sight in contrast with the red foxes that like open fields.

There we met with Jeff the gardening supervisor and Mike the facilities manager. We chatted for a bit but then began our walk; they showing me where the pups were first seen, giving me information about the environment, asking questions. A few minutes into our walk we met with Jenny and Marsha, the two young women who had designed the garden setting and continued to extend the rooftop garden over onto a building that was still under construction.

Someone mentioned that people who arrived at work early in the morning saw foxes crossing through the bushes with rodents in their mouths. I pointed out that in the early days of the pup’s lives, that the parents hunt and bring back to the natal den the food. Later, the pups would know how to forage for and catch their own food. The question became, “Are there rodents making their home up here or are the foxes getting down from off the roof, hunting, then bringing the rodents back up to feed to their three pups.” No one knew.

Mike asked, “How do you think the foxes got up here?”

Of course, I had no idea but I pointed out that they had to have been up there before April in order to find a suitable place for their natal den under the Town Square deck and give birth. No one knew for sure but Jeff thought that maybe since in March and into April that whole area was under construction and that there were very tall ladders leaning up against the outer walls that  maybe they climbed the ladders. At first glance, most would say that such a feat was impossible, but not so for gray foxes can not only climb trees but from first-hand experience I had seen them climb ladders.

The team showed me where the foxes dug up a patch of dirt in the garden. They had learned that the hole filled with water and there they could get a drink. Barbara asked, “How did they discover that?” I replied, “They smelled the water and that told them where to dig.” The solution then was to put bowls out that contained a drip system, keeping the water fresh.

Moving forward, I pointed out that we need to find out whether the foxes are trapped on the Facebook roof, or whether they have a way to travel down to the ground. If trapped up there with three pups of unknown sex, and the inability to get to the ground, the rooftop foxes are in serious trouble for they will inbreed. That would result in the eventual death of the foxes in the rooftop garden.

We decided that the way to find out if they can go to ground would be to place trail cameras at strategic fire escapes to see if they are being used to travel in between. There’s still a lot of work to do up there, but in the end, no matter what, this is the most unique gray fox situation I have ever encountered.

Gray Foxes General Health

To date, no gray foxes at the Palo Alto baylands to date 8/29/2018.

Total Numbers of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

None

 

Section II

Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project – Greg Kerekes & Bill Leikam

On October 7, 2018, the Urban Wildlife Research Project will take part in the Youth Science Institute’s 33 Annual Festival.

To find out more about us, search Urban Wildlife Research Project, UWRP, gray foxes, wildlife connection linkages, corridors and several documentaries and clips on YouTube  

  1. Check out our Facebook page.
  2. If you haven’t had a chance to read at least some of the articles that have been written about our study of gray fox behavior and our corridor work, click on these links as they will take you to the source: Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy, and Greg Kerekes & URWP

————————————————————————————————————

Section III: Gray Fox, Baylands Goals

Within the permit that allows the Urban Wildlife Research Project to conduct its study of the behavior of the gray fox at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, the objectives covered are:

  • Monitoring of urban gray fox denning sites in Palo Alto Baylands.

This is being accomplished during the period when the gray foxes use a den site. It is one of the prime locations for gathering most of the behavioral data on the litter and for adults alike.

  • Assessment of status and population trends of Baylands urban gray foxes

Since November and December of 2016, there have been no resident gray foxes at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

  • Identification of habitat features that promote the presence of urban gray foxes

After considering this and talking with people who know how to restore habitats, we need to assess what kinds of plants, including the Alkaline Salt Bush, would grow best along the edge of the saltwater channel and alongside the marsh. We need to grow a permanent habitat that contains the corridors and plant it as soon as possible. We’ll keep an eye on this as this is a critical link between the southern region of the baylands and the northern region.

  • Assessment of reproductive success and identification of factors that promote successful reproduction

Open up the pinch-point along Matadero Creek by developing thickets that link one area to another, instead of the present “islands”.

  • Identification and assessment of possible dispersal travel routes.

Presently there can only be guesses as to dispersal travel routes. We intend to make this important question much more concrete when we attain our collaring/take/capture permit from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Until next month, I hope that your endeavors provoke thought, are productive, and are rewarding. Take care.

Sincerely,
Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
CEO & President,
Urban Wildlife Research Project
a Nonprofit 501 C3
UrbanWildlifeResearchProject.com


Gray Fox Report for August 2018

The Fabric of Bonding – Part Two

The Tragedy of Two Pups: Dark Face & Bright Eyes

Submitted by William C. Leikam
President & Co-founder
Urban Wildlife Research Project
wcleikam@gmail.com

 

If you haven’t read last month’s Gray Fox Report, it might be a good idea to do so for it will orient you to this second installment. This is a true story; a documentary.

Dark Face & Bright Eyes were born out in the brush along Matadero Creek to Little One and her mate Creek in April of 2013. I watched and photographed them as they grew from being mere bundles of grayish fuzz into taking on the rusty and gray peppered sides, colors of adulthood. When small, their pudgy noses marked them as pups, but as they grew that canine nose pushed out. All the while they were growing up, these two played together, running, chasing, wrestling and when they finally got the knack of climbing trees, down in the Matadero Creek Floodplain these two gray foxes sometimes took to chasing each other up and down tall eucalyptus trees. Nearby there was a patch of dead willow trees with brittle branches. That’s where the young male Dark Face loved to chase his sister Bright Eyes.

It was obvious as I watched these two along with Creek and Little One who lay about nearby, that they were a close family, unlike some of the other fox families in the region. It occurred to me that through their playfulness the glue that held them together was that they truly enjoyed each other’s company even when they were not chasing or wrestling. They were family in the deep meaning of that word. That’s the only conclusion I could reach.

There were differences in these two gray fox’s foxsonalities. For instance, Bright Eyes was much more inquisitive, much more curious about things she’d never before seen like my handkerchief. Dark Face paid little attention to it the first time I tossed it to the dirt road just to see how they might react. Bright Eyes went over to it, sniffed it, then took it in her mouth and ran with it under a nearby coyote bush. I never saw that handkerchief again.

From my Gray Fox Log on September 1, 2013, at around 7:45 AM, as I left the area, I saw at the roadside a dead gray fox. Previously I had seen something lying beside the road, but ignored it, simply shut it out of my mind. I stopped, tossed it away from the road right near a dirty green power transformer. The fox looked like it was in good shape, as it hadn’t been run over. I don’t think it died right away either because it was laying on its stomach with its front legs extended forward and its hind legs extended back. I checked. It was a female. I decided it was one of the wild foxes from out on the Renzel Wetlands.

Although I reported the dead fox to the supervision ranger, expecting them to pick it up right away, it lay there for three full days. During that time, I wondered where Bright Eyes was. She was not playing with Dark Face. Little One and Creek did not come from the brush as was usual. They had vanished. Dark Face limped slightly, but more importantly, as he walked he looked like he carried a heavy load. Most of the time I found him down in the floodplain near the trees where they used to play. With Bright Eyes gone, Dark Face seemed to carry a load, one that wiped from life the joy, the play, the kinship, the hope, the bond that he and his sister had once enjoyed.

It was on the third day that I concluded that the decaying female gray fox out along East Bayshore Road by the green power unit was indeed Bright Eyes. My heart briefly sank. It was only then that I fully understood that she was dead and for the past three days I had been in denial. The truth lay heavy with me it came with seeing the truth of that gray fox Bright Eyes there in an eddy on the river of time had left a family, especially Dark Face, in mourning.

From it all, I conjured a scenario that blossomed like this: Sometime during that night, Bright Eyes and Dark Face were probably chasing each other out along East Bayshore Road, playing on the warm asphalt when a deep sound raced from nowhere, tossing her off to the side of the road and there she shook and sighed. Dark Face may have been clipped, or maybe the tire of that deadly car had hit his paw, thus his limp.

As I put it all together, I saw how bonded these foxes were and just what happens when such a bond is bloodied by a car, by a hunter, by a trapper, by a poacher, or a fight with another; anything that kills and separates. Such emotional bonding plays out across the world of wildlife be they wolves, be they bears, be they raccoons, or most any other animal that walks this Earth including ourselves. We humans must begin to accept all other animals as having emotions, as having thoughts, of enjoying life much the same as you and I.

Next month’s Gray Fox report might have to do with Facebook and the gray fox family living on the roof garden unless of course something dramatic enters and creates a shift in perception:

Gray Foxes General Health

To date, no gray foxes at the Palo Alto baylands to date 8/29/2018.

Total Numbers Of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

None


Section II

Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project – Greg Kerekes & Bill Leikam

Coming up on September 29th to a special committee of the Sierra Club, a private presentation by Bill “The Fox Guy” Leikam will be “Corridors & Linkages: Sustaining the Health of Our Wildlife.”

On August 10th 2018, Bill meet with several people at Facebook to advise them on aspects of the gray foxes living on their corporate campus.

To find out more about us, search Urban Wildlife Research Project, UWRP, gray foxes, wildlife connection linkages, corridors and several documentaries and clips on YouTube  

  1. Check out our Facebook page.
  2. If you haven’t had a chance to read at least some of the articles that have been written about our study of gray fox behavior and our corridor work, click on these links as they will take you to the source: Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy, and Greg Kerekes & URWP

————————————————————————————————————

Section III: Gray Fox, Baylands Goals

Within the permit that allows the Urban Wildlife Research Project to conduct its study of the behavior of the gray fox at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, the objectives covered are:

  • Monitoring of urban gray fox denning sites in Palo Alto Baylands.

This is being accomplished during the period when the gray foxes use a den site. It is one of the prime locations for gathering most of the behavioral data on the litter and for adults alike.

  • Assessment of status and population trends of Baylands urban gray foxes

Since November and December of 2016, there have been no resident gray foxes at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

  • Identification of habitat features that promote the presence of urban gray foxes

As stated in a previous gray fox report, there is a need to undertake some work to increase the habitat features required by the gray foxes and other wildlife in an area where a road was built that borders the saltwater channel. I asked construction supervisor Frank Muzzi about this and he felt that the old growth Coyote Bush would grow back and therefore accomplish the same goal. After considering this and talking with people who know how to restore habitats, we need to assess what kinds of plants, including the Alkaline Salt Bush, would grow best along the edge of the saltwater channel and alongside the marsh. We need to grow a permanent habitat that contains the corridors and plant it as soon as possible. We’ll keep an eye on this as this is a critical link between the southern region of the baylands and the northern region.

  • Assessment of reproductive success and identification of factors that promote successful reproduction

Last month I wrote that gray fox reproduction at the baylands appears to be holding steady with an average of 3.3 pups developing to maturity during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. As noted above, the 2015 season has fewer pups than in years past. Solution? Open up the pinch-point along Matadero Creek by developing thickets that link one area to another, instead of the present “islands”.

  • Identification and assessment of possible dispersal travel routes.

Presently there can only be guesses as to dispersal travel routes. We intend to make this important question much more concrete when we attain our collaring/take/capture permit from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Until next month, I hope that your endeavors provoke thought, are productive, and are rewarding. Take care.

Sincerely,
Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
Urban Wildlife Research Project
UrbanWildlifeResearchProject.com
 

 “If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear.  What one fears one destroys.” Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, British Columbia


Gray Fox Report for September 2016
Respectfully Submitted by
William C. Leikam, Co-Founder of the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP)

One Eye the Pup at the Overflow Channel

c-baylands-pm-2016-09-15-008-cute-darks-gray-fox-pup-one-eye-eye-cropped-close-goodThursday, September 1, I noticed that one of the gray fox pups that I have come to call One Eye, over on the creek had a swollen left eye. Upon close examination, it looked infected as a dark drainage oozed from the corner of its eye. Over the month, I have watched it develop: The swelling increased and on the upper part of the eyebrow, there appeared to be a small cut as if it had been raked by a claw or something sharp, possibly a dry blackberry thorn, or a jagged, broken branch. The ooze decreased then returned. This cycle has occurred upward of four times over the course of the month.

Gray the Alpha Male at the Embarcadero

Once again, almost non-stop from more than a year ago, Gray has a new infection that bothers him so much that he frequently wipes his eye with his dew claw. Early in the month, he had that ugly puss-like drainage at the corners of both eyes, but as time passed the right eye cleared up, leaving oc-baylands-2016-09-24-124-gray-fox-adult-alpha-male-gray-with-infected-right-eye-close-up-infection-goodnly his left eye infected. From my log of September 17, 2016, “Gray’s left eye is infected. It’s running and nearly closed.” His eye got worse and several days later Gray was essentially blind. By the end of the month, on September 28, 2016 Gray’s eye seems to be almost clear of any drainage, but given past performance it’s apt to come again. I am beginning to suspect that at least with Gray that this infectious bacterium is systemic; it lives within his system.

One of Gray’s pups also has such drainage in its left eye.

Dark the Alpha Male at the Overflow Channel

Alpha male Dark is almost a repeat of Gray’s condition. The only exception is that Gray has had these eye infections far longer than Dark. I wondered why it was that these foxes tend toward getting these infections. Is it something in the environment? Did the infected foxes get into a fight? Did each one collide with something and then become infected?

As a conclusion, I need to point out that not all of the foxes that I monitor are so infected. Most of them have clear eyes. Some of the others have other problems as I have reported in the past such as at certain times of the year being infested with vermin of at least five kinds, and/or leg and ear injuries due to fights generally occurring over food.

General Health of the Gray Foxes

Gray fox scat is the most direct way to tell how healthy the population is or how compromised it may be. Other than my previous report of the two pups in the August Gray Fox Report, the scat appears to reflect a relatively healthy gray fox population at the baylands. Endemic to these mammals are worms in their digestive tracts. Both Dark Eyes and Cute show the presence of worms in their scat.

Total Numbers Of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Preserve

This month I need to modify the number of gray foxes in the area. The foxes that once lived at the golf course have moved. According to one of the workers reshaping the area, they have retreated on over across San Francisquito Creek near the Friendship Bridge. That means that five foxes are no longer being tracked leaving a total of 17 foxes living between Embarcadero Road and Adobe Creek. I might add here that there are gray foxes living in the thickets along the overflow channel that are wild and do not show themselves.

Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project – Greg Kerekes & Bill Leikam

As an update on events occurring with the Urban Wildlife Research Project:

As of last Friday, September 30, 2016, a new video about the fox work at the baylands was produced and posted online by the Peninsula Open Spaces Trust (POST). http://archives.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/fox-news-wildlife-corridor-bill-leikam-gray-fox-lord-of-the-rings-menlo-park-south-bay-facebook-moffett-field-wetlands-preservation-m/Content?oid=4842684&showFullText=true

If you haven’t had a chance to read at least some of the articles that have been written about our study of gray fox behavior and our corridor work, click on these links as they will take you to the source: Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy and Greg Kerekes and UWRP.

Beth Pratt-Bergstrom’s new wildlife book When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors covering not only Mt. Lions but as well other wildlife, has been officially released on the book shelves as of August 1, 2016. Within, the book there is a chapter that covers the Urban Wildlife Research Project’s documentation of the gray fox. Please purchase a copy of this valuable book. All proceeds will be used to fund these important wildlife projects in California. To purchase through Amazon.

To find out more about us, search Greg Kerekes, Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy, Urban Wildlife Research Project, UWRP, gray foxes, corridors, and more.

We changed the URL for our website to UrbanWildlifeResearchProject.com.
Check out our UWRP Facebook Page.

Within the permit that allows the Urban Wildlife Research Project to conduct its study of the behavior of the gray fox, the objectives covered are:

Monitoring of urban gray fox denning sites in Palo Alto Baylands.
This is being accomplished during the period when the gray foxes use a den site. It is one of the prime locations for gathering most of the behavioral data on the litter and on adults alike.

Assessment of status and population trends of Bayland’s urban gray foxes.
See above – As of June 2015, it appears as though the number of gray foxes at the baylands has declined considerably. This brings up the question: As with coyotes that can regulate the number of pups born in a region, might also gray foxes do the same?

Identification of habitat features that promote the presence of urban gray foxes.
As stated in a previous gray fox report, there is a need to undertake some work to increase the habitat features required by the gray foxes and other wildlife in an area where a road was built that borders the saltwater channel. I asked construction supervisor Frank Muzzi about this and he felt that the old growth Coyote Bush would grow back within the coming year and therefore accomplish the same goal. After considering this and talking with people who know how to restore habitats, we need to assess what kinds of plants would grow best along the edge of the saltwater channel and alongside the marsh. The Alkaline Saltbush is one but there are probably others as well. We need to grow a permanent habitat that contains the corridors and plant it as soon as possible. We’ll keep an eye on this as this is a critical link between the southern region of the baylands and the northern region.

Assessment of reproductive success and identification of factors that promote successful reproduction.
Last month I wrote that gray fox reproduction at the baylands appears to be holding steady with an average of 3.3 pups developing to maturity during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. As noted above, the 2015 season has fewer pups than in years past.
Solution? Open up the pinch-point along Matadero Creek by developing thickets that link one area to another.

Identification and assessment of possible dispersal travel routes.
Presently there can only be guesses as to dispersal travel routes. We intend to make this important question much more concrete when we attain our collaring/take/capture permit from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Until next month, I hope that your endeavors are productive and rewarding. Take care.

Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
Urban Wildlife Research Project

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Incest at the Baylands

Gray Fox Report for February 2016

Respectfully Submitted by William C. Leikam, Founder of the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP)

Date Submitted: Wednesday, March 05, 2016

Background

February is the time when the females are in estrus (heat is the common term for that condition) because the foxes give birth to their young sometimes in late March but most often in April. Sex for the gray fox comeC - Baylands PM -12-13-2015-038 - Gray fox female Pale hangs out with young male Blackies only once per year and so it is a very important time and the foxes know it. Both males and females make it abundantly clear: Males that they are looking for a female in heat and females announce to all males in the area when they are in estrus or within hours of so being. It is during February that some males and females are polyandrous, meaning that in many cases they have multiple sex partners. They do not always discriminate between sexual partners and it is possible that the female’s mate will not necessarily be the genetic lineage of the pair. (See Multiple paternity and kinship in the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)  Julie L. Weston Glenn, David J. Civitello , Stacey L. Lance)

Continue reading Incest at the Baylands

Gray Fox Report for July 2015

Gray Fox Report for July 2015

Respectfully Submitted by William C. Leikam
Founder of the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP)
Date Submitted: August 5, 2015

CORRECTION

In June’s email I opened, “With the loss of the litter around the water treatment plant, with Little One in seclusion and none of the other females in the region having a litter [that I know of], the only female to have a single pup seems to be Dark Eyes.” During the month of July, I had to correct that. It wasn’t Dark Eyes who had the single pup. Instead it was Cute and her mate the alpha male Dark who have the single pup. Dark Eyes may have a litter but if so, she is keeping it hidden and even at night for I have not seen any of her pups on my cameras. As we enter August, I grow more and more skeptical that she has a litter at all.

Continue reading Gray Fox Report for July 2015

UWRP Newsletter: Gray Fox Report for March 2015

Welcome to the Urban Wildlife
Research Project Newsletter

Gray Fox Report for March 2015

by Bill Leikam, The Fox Guy

Gray Fox Report for March 2015

Respectfully Submitted by William C. Leikam
Founder of the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP)

Date Submitted: Wednesday, April 1, 2015
 
It’s the waiting time; that time when many of the females are staying close to their natal dens. There are exceptions, however. From all indications, short of actually seeing them, Mama Bold has given birth to her litter in the old natal den (continuously in use for 24 years) where she and so many other gray foxes in the local area have been born. Dark Eyes, has been absent for the past two weeks. That suggests that she is either denned up or she too has had her litter. (I do not trespass into the actual natal den and that’s why I do not know for certain if the pups have been born.) Little One’s sides still bulge with pups yet to come. Then there’s the adult female Cute who, last year had a single pup. I’m not sure whether she is pregnant or not.

Continue reading UWRP Newsletter: Gray Fox Report for March 2015

Gray Fox Report for December 2014

The heavy rain and subsequent flooding along Matadero Creek claimed the life of one of the gray fox pups/juveniles. Several of the foxes including the juvenile that drowned, were there in the overflow channel that morning. Just before that first heavy downpour, at 7:00 AM I was at Matadero Creek ready to leave. The creek was much the same as it had been all year long; water and a few Mallards.

At around 9:00 AM as I sat working at my computer, I realized that the rain was coming down heavily. Having grown up on the banks of a volatile creek, I knew how rapidly a creek can fill. Additionally, Matadero Creek, like all of the other creeks in the area are the run-off channels from the streets throughout Palo Alto. That meant even more water coming down Matadero Creek. I decided to go back out to the creek and see what changes may have taken place. I arrived at the Matadero Creek Bridge by 9:15. The water rushed brown with mud having already risen from nearly nothing two hours before. The water had risen at least eight feet. It filled the overflow channel approximately 2.5 feet deep and that meant the creek was full all the way across to the levee on the north side of the creek. There was nowhere for the foxes, the raccoons, the opossums, the wood rats and other wildlife to go.

Continue reading Gray Fox Report for December 2014

Gray Fox Report of February, 2014

Location: Public access areas along the levee road skirting Matadero Creek. Last report – 12/27/2013

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(Picture #1: Helper Female  #2, Creek vaulting over a 10 foot channel)

As mentioned in my last report and as a quick reminder I have been hampered in my monitoring of the gray foxes due to having my Palo Alto City’s permit withdrawn. The city required that I attain a Department of Fish & Wildlife Scientific Collection Permit before I could continue my work. A year has passed with no permit in sight. Because of this, I have enlisted Senator Jerry Hill’s staff to try to trace it down. Even they are having difficulties but the last word on this is that the State Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to find my application.

Continue reading Gray Fox Report of February, 2014

January 2013 Monthly Fox Report

Monthly Gray Fox Report

by Bill Leikam

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bold(female) with Rabbit Bill Leikam ©2013
Bold(female) with Rabbit Bill Leikam ©2013

Over the period of just over a month since my last report, a few changes have taken place with the gray foxes at the baylands. Since early December and on into January, the young foxes, the yearlings, have ignored the usual territorial boundaries as they are looking for their own territory and a mate. Foxes are coming and going through the area. They are for the most part solitary but they will pair up for a week, maybe two weeks and then move on. Along the creek, there are at least two and maybe four foxes both in the floodplain and along the creek down toward the slough. Last month there were none.

Continue reading January 2013 Monthly Fox Report