By: Cholla Nicoll, Borderlands Wildlife Preserve Lead Technician
Some of the most striking photographs captured at BWP are of gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). These beautiful foxes are one of five fox species found in North America. Gray foxes are part of the Canid or dog family distantly related to wolves. They are one of only two Canids with semi-retractable claws allowing them to easily climb up trees. Gray foxes are known to live about 7 to 10 years in the wild. They have a litter of kits once a year that number one to seven. Gray foxes are small omnivorous predators taking advantage of eating various foods from nuts and berries to eggs, lizards, and rodents. The gray foxes' thick gray, red and white coat with a black stripe along the back gives the fox a more significant appearance than they are, weighing around 5 pounds.
Of the five foxes found in North America, gray foxes and red foxes frequent human-developed areas. Although gray foxes to a lesser degree. Towns may draw gray foxes in by the abundance of food and lack of large predators such as mountain lions who prey upon foxes along with smaller predators such as coyotes and bobcats. The gray fox is considered not quite as bold as the red fox and is rarely seen due to its excellently camouflaged coat and nocturnal behavior. Gray foxes can sometimes be seen near bird feeders, drawn in by the abundant rodent life seeking the free seeds.
Gray foxes are abundant, but they face many challenges that revolve around human activity. Over 500,000 gray foxes are killed yearly to fulfill the fur trade. Gray foxes may also get into trouble trying to eat backyard chickens. To avoid this conflict, build covered chicken enclosures and bury the surrounding wire at least 8 inches deep to prevent small predators from digging into the coop. Gray foxes are not a threat to humans, including children, if they are not rabid. Gray foxes also do not usually prey on full-grown cats. However, kittens may be small enough to be preyed upon. Like all our region's native animals, Gray foxes have intrinsic value and deserve our patience, respect, and adaptation to their presence. Please enjoy these beautiful pictures of our local gray foxes.
Wildlife Monitoring at the BWP during 20201 - 2022, supported by the Wildlife Conservation, Climate Adaptation Fund, supported by funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The WCS Climate Adaptation Fund supports projects helping ecosystems adapt to climate change, including urban environments and projects incorporating joint mitigation and adaptation approaches.
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