The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is launching a San Joaquin (SJ) kit fox poster contest at selected schools in Bakersfield.
The contest is aimed at seven high schools to bring awareness to the dangers that SJ kit foxes face during pupping season. The schools were chosen based on their proximity to kit fox habitat.
“Engaging young people in a poster contest is a great way to get the word out about the struggles these foxes face during pupping season which lasts from early March to mid-May,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Greg Gerstenberg. “Every year, we receive calls about pups caught in soccer nets or in batting cages, often resulting in their death. We hope this contest will raise awareness about the plight of these vulnerable animals and what the community can do to help.”
Sponsors provided prizes for the contest including $1,200 from the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of The Wildlife Society, $300 in merchandise from Bass Pro Shops and $200 from the Sierra Club.
Contest winners will be announced in early May. The first-place winner will receive $500 in cash and/or prizes, second place will receive $250, and three honorable mention prizes will be awarded at $50 each. Any remaining donations will go toward the cost of printing the winning posters.
More information on the contest can be found here: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/SJKitFoxContest.
Compact and shy, the SJ kit fox is so limited in numbers that it is listed as one of California’s endangered animals. At five pounds, they are the size of a housecat, with big ears and a long bushy tail. Primarily hunters of rodents, rabbits and insects, these foxes do not need a real source of water since they get much of their fluid requirements from the meals they consume.
Respecting foxes includes never feeding or exposing them to human activity, never disturbing their habitat and always remembering to keep sports nets off the ground when not in use, especially in the springtime when the pups are playing outside the den.
Kit foxes were relatively common until the 1930s when native grasslands were converted to farms, orchards and cities. Current efforts to encourage population recovery include conservation plans, restoration of native habitats and protection of existing occupied habitat.
Image courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife