Prior to 2007, l ittle was known about the Sacramento Valley red fox, which was first recorded in the valley around 1880. During 2007-2009, we conducted a study to determine the current distribution and status of this species. The study entailed three parts: (1) seeking sightings of red foxes or dens from residents of the Sacramento Valley, (2) collecting road-killed specimens for genetic, reproductive, age, and health indexes, and (3) collection of feces and hair from around dens for genetic material.
With the help of Sacramento Valley residents, we were able to assemble enough information on the locations of reproductive den sites to develop a predictive model for red fox distribution (for complete findings, see Report on 2007-2009 study).
We are currently conducting Phase II of the Sacramento Valley red fox project in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, funded partly through a State Wildlife Grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and partly through the voluntary efforts of the Director, technicians, and undergraduate interns associated with the Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory.
Phase II of the research will run from January 2013 through June 2015 and is aimed at testing the red fox distribution model developed in Phase I. Additionally, genetic sample collected during this period will provde a second snapshot in time, allowing us to track changes in the genetic composition of the population (including native vs. nonnative ranges). The research is being conducted in the context of a generalized mesocarnivore survey.
How you can help
As in Phase I , please report road-killed red foxes (530-754-7932, ask for Kat) for genetic and physiological samples. Additionally, please report sightings in the online portal (Report a Sighting).
An important operational difference between Phase I and Phase II of the research is that in Phase I, we used ANY and ALL information we could gather from Valley residents about the occurrence of red foxes to locate dens wherever they could befound. Although we still request sighting information, we will not necessarily follow-up reports. Phase II of the reserach requires us to survey pre-select locations regardless of whether foxes are present or not. This survey is a broad mesocarnivore survey including red foxes and other small to mid-sized carnivores.
For pre-selected locations predominated by private land, we will seek to information from residents through a brief survey and request permission to set up carnivore sampling survey stations.