Gray Fox Report For February 2018

Gray Fox Report for February 2018

The Tale of an Injured Raccoon

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


Since there are no gray foxes at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, and I don’t expect any to make it their home range until late this year, possibly late November through early January 2019, I will continue substituting varied information about select events and the wildlife that make the baylands their home.

The Injured Young Raccoon

The baylands harbors a number of other wild animals other than the foxes that pass through. There is a red fox that has come and gone through the areas where my trail cameras are located but as of this writing, I have not seen it for more than seven weeks. I suspect that, like the previous red fox of five years ago, that it has left the area.

The most plentiful of all the other wildlife in the baylands are raccoons. Over this past month, there has been a young raccoon that apparently got into a fight and most likely with the two bullying raccoons that have come into the area. In any case, when I first saw this young injured raccoon, it stumbled and fell onto its side there before our trail camera at 6:12 PM on January 29th in broad daylight, That’s a highly unusual time of day for any of the baylands raccoons to be moving about.

Once it managed to pick itself up and hobble out in front of the camera, the fur on its left hind leg flank looked bloody. As it moved farther along the trail It held its paw off the ground. Any attempt to put any weight on that hind leg caused it to topple onto its side. Determined to continue, it awkwardly managed to step along down the narrow trail on three legs. It stopped and out of habit with that injured hind leg, it attempted to scratch an itch. It fell. That told me that the injury was so new that this young raccoon had not yet adjusted to getting around on only three legs.

Through it all, I wondered whether it would get enough food to sustain itself, how long would it take to heal, and how would it relate to the other raccoons in the region because sometimes those that are injured are viciously ostracized by the wildlife community. Over the ensuing week, I watched. The injury didn’t seem to be improving in that the raccoon still could not put pressure on that injured paw, but it did learn to manage much better as it hobbled along the Skunk Hill Trail. For instance, it no longer fell, it learned that it could not use that leg. Most of the other raccoons upon encountering the injured one simply ignored it. However, there were two other young raccoons that bullied the other raccoons to the point that when they came into the area and there were other raccoons in the vicinity, those other raccoons either turned and ran or as the two bullies approached the others simply backed off but always keeping an eye on the other two.

Toward the end of February, there was a noticeable improvement in the injury in that the young raccoon could on occasion put weight on that leg. One night, along Skunk Hill Trail, the injured raccoon was down near the fence where the wildlife had dug a passageway beneath it so that they could pass from one side to the other. The two bullies showed up. With no care, they shoved the injured raccoon out of the way. The injured raccoon defiantly barred its teeth. The two bullies backed off and continued on through along the trail toward the fallen trees off in the dark.

As of now, the healing continues. Nightly the raccoon shows up before other cameras located some distance from the Skunk Hill Trail. Still hobbling along, every once in awhile the raccoon will put weight onto its injured hind leg. Knowing the resilience of these animals, having seen gray foxes heal, I have no doubt that the young one will completely heal, yet it most likely will take much of March to do so. 

Gray Foxes General Health

To date, no gray foxes at the Palo Alto baylands during February.x Flop seems to be healthy too. 

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


Section II

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

The following are events that Greg and I have been invited to present to. Contact us for more information.

a. Next public presentation by Bill “The Fox Guy” Leikam: A Year with the Urban Gray FoxSafari West, April 20, 2018, at 7:00 PM.

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 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