A new project to monitor and improve the understanding of urban foxes living in Whitehorse will begin this year. The project is a collaboration between the Yukon’s Fish and Wildlife Branch, the Animal Health Unit, and the Conservation Officers Services branch.
Jodie Pongracz, a carnivore biologist for Fish and Wildlife, said over the past couple of decades, “the number of red foxes living in and around Whitehorse has appeared to have increased”.
“Foxes are really well adapted to living in close proximity to people and they have definitely become part of the urban landscape here,” said Pongracz.
“Many of the foxes in Whitehorse are highly habituated to people and they come into close contact and proximity to people and there have been situations where foxes have had altercations with local pets.
“The more we know about that, the better, because there are public safety risks associated with highly habituated urban foxes. They can be carriers of pathogens that can be spread to people and their pets. Foxes are wild animals and they are different than your pets”
The urban fox project has several components and is a multi-year project.
“What it involves is monitoring Whitehorse’s red fox population through den counts, so locating the dens, counting the adults and pups, and monitoring how this changes through the spring,” said Pongracz.
|The public are being asked to report urban fox dens as part of a new collaborative urban fox study. (John Tonin/Yukon News)|
Pongracz said other components of the project include monitoring what the foxes eat — whether it is natural food sources or food derived from humans — and continuing the documentation of human fox conflict.
“Then there is an animal health component of this,” said Pongracz. “We want to improve our understanding of pathogens found in the urban foxes. Particularly those that can be transmitted to people or pets or those that could have a significant effect on the fox population.”
Pongracz said the transmission of rabies to humans or pets is always a concern, although the presence of rabies is believed to be low.
“The animal health unit has been testing wild carnivores including foxes since 2012 and that surveyance will continue as well,” said Pongracz.
Contact John Tonin at firstname.lastname@example.org