The first desert kit fox pup of the 2012 season weighed in at a whopping 800 grams, or about 1.75 pounds.
Deana Clifford, the WIL’s wildlife veterinarian for nongame, threatened and endangered species, and Jaime Rudd, the nongame wildlife health program science aide, are conducting examinations and disease testing on desert kit foxes in eastern Riverside County, California. The exams and testing are part of a collaborative effort to understand the significance of an outbreak of canine distemper virus in desert kit foxes that started in 2011 (link to previous story).
Canine distemper virus is a disease that causes respiratory and neurologic (brain) disease in both wild carnivores and domestic dogs. The virus can circulate naturally among wild carnivore populations but can also be transmitted between wildlife and domestic dogs. Therefore, it is always important to keep dogs current on vaccines.
With the assistance of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), regional Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab at UC Davis, the WIL is monitoring the health of desert kit foxes and trying to determine if the disease is continuing to kill kit foxes or spread to other areas.
Foxes are also being monitored at and near the new, large-scale solar energy facilities in the desert. Biologists and project site staff are tracking and monitoring the survival of radio-collared animals through radio telemetry and the use of remote controlled cameras.
We have just started our field work to assess the health of this year’s new pups born earlier this spring and to retest foxes we have been monitoring since January 2012.
We will post more updates from the desert soon!