Friday, September 27, 2019

Fox Foto Friday - Where's M152?

Remember this face from last year? M152 is a male fox on the eastern side of Santa Rosa Island. 

This year he was not counted during the annual count and health checks in his area. But don't fear... M152 is doing well. We know he is still in his territory and going about his daily life because he is wearing a radio-tracking collar.

This demonstrates the importance of having two ways to monitor island foxes. 

Annual counts and health checks allow biologists to check the health and well-being of individual animals while they have them in-hand. This provides a snapshot of the population's health as a group at a specific time.

Radio-tracking collars enable the monitoring of individual foxes throughout the year. Their movements in an area can be tracked and if something happens to them, their radio collar reports to  biologists.

M152 did not come into a capture cage this year. Perhaps he was finding plenty of food because of the normal rainfall this spring and saw no reason to enter a capture cage. Perhaps when he came across a capture cage, another fox was already in it.

M152 is a pretty wily fox. We think he is approximately 5–6 years old. In that time he's only been captured twice: in 2014 and last year in 2018. ID micro-chips make is possible for each island fox to be tracked as an individual.

We're sorry that the biologists didn't have a chance to weigh him, check his health, and take a whisker sample this summer. It would have been great to compare to his last health check.

But other foxes did get examined and their stories are important too.