Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Do You Count Island Foxes?

Across the Channel Islands biologists are setting special enclosure traps to catch island foxes. Each year at the end of summer traps are set-up along specific trails or grids and left open over night. In the evening hours curious or hungry island foxes find their way into the wire mesh traps.

courtesy of Channel Islands National Park
This is how island foxes are counted on each of the Channel Islands. Late summer or early fall is the best season to capture the small foxes because it is late enough in the season that fox pups are no longer nursing and early enough that adult island foxes are not yet preparing to breed for the next batch of offspring.

Before sunrise field biologists head out to check each trap. Frequently if an island fox pup is caught in the cage, biologists report that the parents may be close by, keeping an eye on their youngster. And often island fox parents will leave food, like a dead mouse or two, in front of the cage. This behavior is call "provisioning." Even though the island fox pup is caught in the capture cage, the parents will continue to try and take care of it.

The island fox pup that has been sharing its adventures on Twitter is about to experience an annual Health Check. (See the Twitter box to the right or follow Tani's adventures on FaceBook)

For MORE on an island fox's annual Health Check, LISTEN to biologist Julie King from the Catalina Island Conservancy as she does a health check on an island fox in the wild.

Follow us on @ifoxtweet on Twitter as an island fox pup grows up.