---Alice Abrams

Monday, September 24, 2007

Manic Monday - Kit

My entry for this week's MM word - Kit - is Kit Fox. Living in the San Joaquin Valley, we're privy to some interesting species, some of which are, unfortunately, endangered. Because of the severe laws in effect, I'm afraid someday our farmers will become endangered as well!
But this little guy is a winsome little fox. At our previous house, we had an area just a block away that these foxes lived in. Sometimes at night, if you were real lucky, you could catch one in the headlights.

We live in the 'burbs but it was all rural not too many years ago. In the nine years we lived in the southwest part of town, in our backyard I have seen a 'possum staring down at me from one of our banana plants; a hawk swoop down and fetch it's lunch in the form of a mouse; a skunk, whose tail was at full alert and managed to get off a good spray right under our office windows; and many other wonderful creatures! But I count it good fortune to see one of these cuties~


Conservation comments:
The San Joaquin Kit Fox is a cute, curious, and endangered resident of the San Joaquin Valley of California and is found in the Central Valley and foothills.
STATUS: Endangered. We are working hard to prevent this.
DESCRIPTION: San Joaquin kit foxes are the smallest foxes in North America. They are about 51 cm long. (About 20 inches) This doesn't count their tails. They weigh a little over 2 kg. (About 5 pounds) They have long legs and large ears. Their coats range from tan to buffy gray in the summer. This changes to silvery gray in the winter.
FOOD: Small mammals such as mice, kangaroo rats, squirrels and rabbits. Ground-nesting birds. Insects.
HABITAT: San Joaquin scrub and grasslands.
MATING: Kit foxes can breed when one year old. Adult pairs stay together all year. In the fall, females begin to clean and enlarge their pupping dens. The foxes mate between December and March.
Litters of two to six pups are born in February or March. Pups emerge from the den after about a month.
PREDATORS: Red foxes, coyotes, domestic dogs, bobcats and large raptors.
RANGE: Most San Joaquin kit foxes live on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
THREATS: Loss of habitat to farming and development. By 1979, only about 6.7% of the San Joaquin Valley's original wildlands south of Stanislaus County remained untilled and undeveloped.
Predation and competition from larger species such as the nonnative red fox.

A Place for the Kit Fox to Hide: We help win California's first Safe Harbor, Posted: 01-Jan-2002;

Updated: 08-May-2007
Small and delicate, with huge ears, the San Joaquin kit fox has been called "the ballet dancer of the canid world." This small, graceful carnivore has been on the endangered species list since 1967. More than 95% of its grassland and desert scrub habitat in California's San Joaquin Valley has been eradicated by housing, mega-malls and farms. But a recent agreement brokered by Environmental Defense improves the tiny fox's chances for survival. Kit foxes share the San Joaquin with larger, faster coyotes that prey on them. In self-defense, the mostly nocturnal foxes have for millennium been digging escape burrows where they hunker down until it's safe to come out. But in cultivated fields and orchards, there are few places left to dig. The foxes have become increasingly easy pickings for the coyotes, their leading cause of death, according to Dr. Patrick Kelly, director of the endangered species recovery program at California State University, Fresno.
Kelly studied kit foxes in the vicinity of the Paramount Farming Company outside Bakersfield, and conceived a new way to help: Why not install artificial burrows for the foxes to escape from coyotes on farmland?
It seemed simple, but there was a catch. Paramount, if it cooperated, might become liable under the Endangered Species Act for its farming activities near the burrows. Why would the landowner take such a risk? "Unfortunately, a history of conflict has made private landowners extremely wary of the Endangered Species Act," says Michael Bean, director of our wildlife program. Some valley farmers have reportedly resorted to plowing fallow fields to keep endangered species away.
"Our concern was that we'd do the right thing, and it would backfire," says Scott Hamilton, Paramount's resource manager.
Safe Harbor's Promise
Kelly enlisted Environmental Defense and our Safe Harbor initiative. Safe Harbor agreements, introduced by us in 1995 and adopted nationally by the Fish and Wildlife Service, allow landowners to help endangered species voluntarily while being protected from new liability. Bean was pleasantly surprised when, after hearing about Safe Harbor, Paramount "took about 10 minutes to agree."
After our plan was embraced by Paramount, the company built 25 escape burrows on its land and even volunteered to pick up the cost. Bean and Kelly are impatient to open the dens, which are still capped in anticipation of final federal approval of the agreement. "The foxes need some time to check them out," Kelly says. "And their breeding season is coming up soon."


crazy working mom said...

Happy Monday, Gracie. I love this one. I didn't even think of it! :)

Jersey - The Furry Diva said...

Oh, I ♥ your entry, Miss Gracie. Even I didn´t think of foxes =)

hana said...

very informative post. thanks for sharing. i learned something today

Jamie said...

Great photographs. I used to spend my summers in Fresno and Fowler. As a child the outskirts of Fresno started East of Shaw and you had to hike in on the San Joaquin river where there are now suburbs. It is a good thing they are leaving some land wild for the beautiful kit foxes.

Sanni said...

I didn´t think of kit foxes, either. Love the photos and enjoyed every word!

Happy MM!

the108 said...

Awww!!! So cute!

tegdirb92 said...

what a beautiful animal!! Happy WW.

Desert Songbird said...

Great photos to go with the post. You're very informational!

lisa said...

very cool animal! thanks for all the info.

Anonymous said...

What intersting info...I didn't even know they existed!

Mert said...

Very pretty, I love to look at pictures of wolves and foxes! Happy MM!

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

I never even thought of kit fox. What a great post Gracie. Have a great MM. :)

Mo said...

Kit Foxes were one of my favorites to visit @ The Cleveland Zoo.
Great post!

Travis said...

That was interesting about the artificial habitat. Excellent post.

Happy MM!

Linda said...

What a great entry! Fantastic!

Hope you had a great Monday and are in store for a terrific week.

Sarge Charlie said...

good one gracie....

Imma (Alice) at I Was Born2Cree8 said...

I'm a day late, but finally here, haha. This is a wonderful post for "kit". You can still hop over and check mine out too.

Reba said...

Ya... me too!! Bark, arf.

Heart of Rachel said...

Hi Gracie. Thanks for sharing these interesting facts about foxes. They are beautiful animals. Hope they can overcome the problems facing them.

Kira said...

Just found this post -- thanks for highlighting our work! The kit foxes are a great favorite among our staff.

We love the ocelot, too, and are also work on Safe Harbor agreements to support them:

Again, thanks!