Gray Fox Report: February 2020
Changes in the Baylands Foxes
The gray fox pair out at the baylands have not shown anything of any substantive importance except that possibly they have moved their sleeping location. This behavior is typical of these foxes. They will hang out in a specific area for months and then suddenly they will change. I don’t know the reason for this but it may have to do with their food supply, or as in the case of these two foxes they are hunkering down to have a litter in April. Their natal den may be some distance from where we have encountered them up to now and thus that changes their routine both in where they hang out and where they hunt.
Gray fox hunting behavior is rather interesting in that they tend to hunt a region and when that region’s food supply begins to shrink, they move to a new area closer to an abundance of food. There they feed until that area has begun a decline and so they move once again. In so doing, however, they never, as far as what I have seen, permanently leave their home range but if an area adjacent to their home range is unclaimed, they will foray out into such areas and forage. It appears as if that’s what the female Big Eyes and her mate Laimos are doing as they are not as frequently picked up on the trail cameras as they have been, for instance last month.
So, what does this all boil down to? If I am going to study their behavior, I need to find out where they are and that makes for a difficult search. Experience has shown that they don’t need to travel very far to locate that next “dining room.” Given that there is not enough cover in the area, they will locate their “new” daytime sleeping area in the nearby thickets and brush to their new hunting area or their natal den.
A Visit from Switzerland & the BBC
Three weeks ago, we were handed an incredible offer by Katharina Weikl, a professor of history at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. We are one of ten countries to be a part of a very large, immersive video installation at the Gestaltung Museum in Zurich. The installation will feature 10 animals from ten different countries around the world – the gray fox being one. Global warming’s impact on wildlife will be a part of this wildlife exhibit. We are representing the United States in this video exhibition as there is no other organization nor animal from the US unless Katherina decides to contact an organization in Alaska.
The video that will be used is being gathered right now on a Reconyx trail camera that was given to us by Katharina who flew from Zurich to San Francisco to have lunch with myself and our Communications Director, Davy Davidson. Afterward I took Katharina to the baylands where we found, what she felt, was an excellent location for the camera’s location. Once a week I pick up the SD Card and ship the files to Katharina in Zurich. We’ll see how this all plays out a year from now.
In addition, the BBC is making waves again and this time they have assured me that they are sending a team out here to video the foxes both at the baylands and at Facebook. This is part of a larger documentary for their Nature Series that’s shown around here on PBS.
Gray Foxes General Health
This pair is young, most likely first-year dispersals. They appear to be vibrant and healthy. I’ve noticed that this pair do not have intestinal worms like many foxes living along the bay. One can tell if a fox has worms because their scat contains the worm’s eggs; a white rice like sized item in their scat.
Total Numbers of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve
As of February 2020, we have two adult gray foxes living in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.
Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project
We need your generous donation be it one dollar or 5,000 dollars so that we can begin the collaring project. Just go to our website ( Urban Wildlife Research Project), check out the letter and go to the donate button on the left of the page. Your donation is tax deductible. The collaring project needs $25,000 and here’s the reason why donate to uwrp?
If you’d like to see a bit of wild Africa giraffes, rhinos, zebras and so much more come visit Safari West https://www.safariwest.com/ We will be doing a tabling event at Safari West on April 18th from 10:00 AM to 4 PM. Drop by and pay us a visit and let us know how you found us.
- Check out our Facebook page.
- 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 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.
Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
CEO & President,
Urban Wildlife Research Project
A Nonprofit 501 C3