California’s Kern National Wildlife Refuge has long been known as the place to go for spotting some impressive birds. Visitors come from all over to take advantage of some incredible birding opportunities. However, officials are now saying that there could be more wildlife to keep track of in these areas. This comes as one endangered creature was captured on camera for the first time in 15 years.
Officials Note That There Are Signs The Rare Kit Fox Is Denning In The Refuge
According to officials at the Kern National wildlife refuge, the San Joaquin kit Fox has been spotted on the grounds for the first time since 2007. Furthermore, the reports note, there are signs that the fox may be settling into the area.
“Kit foxes are known in areas south and north of the refuge,” notes
so we’ve suspected that they may use the refuge as a corridor,” said Katie Jimenez, wildlife biologist for the Kern National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
“So we’ve suspected that they may use the refuge as a corridor,” Jimenez adds.
Additionally, Jimenez says, the officials at the refuge have been keeping an eye out for finds like this since 2015.
“We started doing quarterly surveys with cameras in 2015,” she explains. “And this is the first time we’ve had a camera capture an image of one.”
Major Changes To The Area Over The Years Have Created Perfect Conditions For the Return Of This Endangered Animal
This kit fox was seen in an area of the refuge that officials say has been undergoing restoration projects since 2019. These projects began after a fire in the area burned over 330 acres of the park’s 3,040 acres.
According to officials, the area that caught fire was known to house noxious and invasive plants such as the salt cedar plant. These plants had been growing in this area on the refuge since flooding hit the section in the 1980s. Now, officials are clearing the plant out of the way. Essentially opening up space for the foxes to settle in.
“Kit foxes live in open areas without too many shrubs or tall grasses,” Jimenez explains.
“They really need that open space to see predators like coyotes,” she adds. “By clearing out what’s left of the salt cedar after the fire, we’ve opened the landscape up, and the kit fox we caught on camera seems to approve.”
Jimenez adds that after the initial fox sighting the team at the refuge set out to search for any potential dens to suggest the animal is settling into that area. Finally, an image of a kit fox standing in front of a possible den gave the officials hope.
“Since the initial sighting, we’ve caught foxes on our cameras on nine out of eleven nights,” Jimenez relates.
“We’re planning on installing 10 artificial burrows in this restored habitat,” she explains. “To help support a potential kit fox family on the refuge.”