If you recall in the April Gray Fox Report, I wrote that the female Big Eyes was not only pregnant but that she and her mate acted right in line with the way gray foxes behave when they are ready to have their litter. The activities of the foxes during May reinforced my contention that the pair had given birth to their litter. In April I wrote, “In a nutshell, the foxes are out there doing just fine in raising their young. I have not picked up any trail camera shots of their pups, but will probably come upon them in late July.” From then on, I rode with that perspective in mind until recently.
It’s happened more than once while documenting the behavior of the gray foxes and given my contacts with other scientists working in the field, it is pretty common. What is it? Pulling together seemingly good, seemingly clear data, feeling as though there’s enough data needed to draw conclusions, writing about it, and using the information in public lectures, until the foxes behave in ways that contradict prior conclusions. In short having to change one’s mind or alter it to a significant degree.
Having to face this embarrassing situation I have to retract my original conclusion, that being that the pair of foxes had a litter of pups and correct myself. We are just days away from August. Daily I have been checking the files from the trail cameras and I see no evidence that there are any pups anywhere in their home range. I was wrong. My data was insufficient. With this in mind, evidence of pups being present would be to see at least three gray foxes, that is two identified adults and at least a single pup, in the same video frame over at least five different occasions. I have not seen the needed information and thus must retract my contention that the gray foxes had a litter.
It is also important to know that between the present and November there is a period of three months remaining before the gray fox pups born here in Central California disperse. A lot can happen in this interim period. It might be that I will have to retract this retraction. If that is the case, then we learn from it for failures in science and elsewhere in life are staging points for learning.
Gray Foxes General Health
This pair is young, most likely first-year dispersals. They appear to be vibrant and healthy except for one common ailment. They both have intestinal worms, common at this time of year.
Total Numbers of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve
As of June 2019, we have two adult resident gray the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.
Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project – Greg Kerekes & Bill Leikam
Please donate so that we can begin the collaring project. Just go to our website, 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?
We have no scheduled public presentations in the foreseeable future.
On May 24th, I was interviewed via live Internet video stream with the History Channel in New York City. I may be selected to appear in a documentary that they are producing. Keep the positive vibes flowing my way.
If you would like to see and hear the interview that Kevin Webb did with me, check out https://twitter.com/WebbKevin/status/1111294989429026816
You can still check out Punch Magazine – Article page 52, about Bill and the work he is doing at the Baylands including what’s next. Many have reported enjoying the article Keeping Vigil with the Fox Guy.
- Check out our Facebook page.
- 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