Monday, March 28, 2011

Under the Sidewalk

Endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox and Pup
I have been in Bakersfield, California this week, looking for endangered
San Joaquin Kit Foxes.  Foxes in the city?  Yes, in one of the most 
unexpected of situations, these rare foxes are holding their own living
 in the middle of the city, in some cases better than they’re faring in
 the surrounding agricultural land. As one biologist told me, kit foxes
 are better off in an empty lot than a farmer’s field. The lot has good
 places to den, and access to the varied diet the city can offer : hot
dogs,candy, and maybe the mice that feed on them.

After searching for an active den for several days, I stumbled onto
this family at dusk last night, emerging from their den – under a
cracked city sidewalk.  The mother appeared, followed – to my delight –
by two small cubs, playful and curious. I went back again this morning
and had a few minutes with them before they went back down into
their den to sleep the day away. (Kit foxes are primarily nocturnal).

But the challenges facing these urban foxes became all too clear
when I returned again tonight. To my horror, the street where I had
photographed the foxes just this morning was now under construction,
with workers jack-hammering the pavement only a few yards from the
den.  I quickly made sure they were aware of the den’s existence and
asked that they try to minimize the disturbance of that part of the
street, but after they all left, and darkness fell, I saw no sign of the
foxes.  I’ll go back tomorrow and check on them.

The urban foxes of Bakersfield make a dangerous bargain : they get
plenty to eat and enjoy the lack of predators. But they also have to
contend with road crews, lawn mowers, cats and dogs,and a city full
of cars. I hope they make it.

Nikon D3, 200-400 f4 lens

1 comment:

  1. There are a lot of foxes living urban in England, too. They seem to adapt pretty well, I guess there, they're the equivalent of raccoons. Cute, but messy.. lol

    These foxes are beautiful!!