DFG is calling on the residents of Kern County to help with the long-term recovery of the San Joaquin (SJ) kit fox.
Compact, fearful and shy, the SJ kit fox is so limited in numbers that it is listed as one of California’s endangered animals. Weighing in at just five pounds, it’s 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.
“Mother nature is giving Kern County a unique gift with this incredibly resourceful fox in their backyard,” said Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Senior Environmental Scientist Greg Gerstenberg. “Urban sprawl has encroached upon their habitat but that has not stopped them from adapting and being good a neighbor.”
Assisting with recovery starts with respecting foxes and includes never feeding or exposing them to human interaction, watching for habitat disturbances and understanding their lifecycle, especially in the springtime when pupping season is in full bloom.
DFG has also launched a new SJ kit fox resource web page that provides general information of foxes including how to identify a kit fox, protective measures to keep foxes out of trouble and contact information for additional assistance. The resources can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/kitfox.html.
Kit foxes were relatively common until the 1930s when native grasslands were converted to farms, orchards and cities. The federal government listed them as an endangered species in 1967 and they were listed as a threatened species by the state in 1971. The California population is estimated at less than 7,000. Current efforts to encourage population recovery include conservation plans, restoration of native habitats and protection of existing occupied habitat.
Photo: California Department of Fish and Game