Gray Fox Report: April 2021

Pups or Hormones?

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

Down in the clearing, I went on back along Hummer Trail to cameras #10 & #3. They are away from the big clearing that is located at the fallen eucalyptus tree. I was about ready to turn on camera #10 when I looked over to the clearing and there was Big Eyes sniffing about, and out in the open. I finished with camera #3 and went back along Hummer Trail to get my Canon DSL camera that hung on a tree. I slowly, step by careful step moved into position to take a photo of her but with my last step she shot back under the fallen eucalyptus and into the thicket.

That pair of gray foxes came into the woods along Matadero Creek on January 24, 2019. This pair has been here for two years. In that time, they have not had pups, but in 2020, at this time of year, she had become hugely skittish as she was this afternoon and on previous afternoons. According to my log entry of Sunday, March 29, 2020, “She’s been absent from anywhere along the [channel]. I think that she’s taking care of their pups. Not sure, but it looks that way and a part of that is based on her hyper-skittishness.” This year she became hyper-skittish right around the first week of April. This is the time of year when a pair of gray foxes has their litter. Her change in response to my presence has caused me to wonder why she has become so skittish for prior to her present behavior, she was rather relaxed when I was around although if I got too close, she’d hurry off for cover. In contrast, her mate Laimos will sometimes walk right out into the clearing with me standing some ten or so feet away.

So, given the present, is she acting so hyper-skittish because she has pups back in the thicket, or if she doesn’t have pups, is this response a hormonal shift that causes her to be so highly sensitive and therefore skittish? Might this apply to all gray fox females at this time of year?

Gray Foxes General Health

These two foxes appear to be in good health.

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

As of April, 2021, we have two adult gray foxes living in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

Section II

Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project

The collaring project needs in excess of $35,000 and here’s the reason why you should consider a donation to UWRP be it $1 or $5,000 so that we can begin the collaring project dedicated to making the baylands along the San Francisco Bay a healthy place for wildlife to live. You can donate through PayPal or Give Direct, our preferred portal for giving. On our website (Urban Wildlife Research Project), check out the short video and go to the donate button nearby. Your donation is tax deductible.

Check out our Facebook page.

Check out our YouTube Channel at 

Check out Bill’s interview of January 1, 2021, hosted by the Town of Woodside California for their First Friday event at

Radio interview – KALW (Local PBS) Audio Recording Interviewed by Sofie Kodner during December 2020 – Broadcast 1/11/2021 5:00 PM on PBS’s program Crosscurrents

Bill had a conversation with John Muir Laws and Marcia Sivek during a drawing workshop featuring the gray fox with the renowned artist John Muir Laws on January 14, 2021. It aired from noon until 1:30 PM. The Gray Fox: Art and Conservation • John Muir Laws

You can access Bill’s PowerPoint presentation Corridors & Connections: Sustaining the Health of All Wildlife presented during the October 24th P-22 Urban Wildlife Festival here:

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

If you haven’t had a chance to read 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 area:

  • 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 of the litter and for adults alike.

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

Since January 2019 a pair of resident gray foxes have claimed territory 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.

Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
CEO & President,
Urban Wildlife Research Project
A Nonprofit 501 C3