Respectfully Submitted by William C. Leikam, Founder of the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP)
Date Submitted: Wednesday, March 05, 2016
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 comes 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)
Founder of the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP)
Date Submitted: August 5, 2015
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.
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.
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.
Location: Public access areas along the levee road skirting Matadero Creek. Last report – 12/27/2013
(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.
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.