Desert kit foxes, those small, night-loving, rodent-eating mammals, are a little closer to being listed as California’s next threatened species. This week, the folks at the Center for Biological Diversity (CMD) filed to list the fox under the California Endangered Species Act (CalESA) which would give foxes more clout when developers come with shovels to disrupt their dwindling habitats.
Indeed, the Mojave desert dweller has been faced with numerous obstacles – can I find enough food? What happened to my home? Where can I find mate? The housecat size desert foxes often vie for food from other desert predators – like coyotes – and more often than not, they find themselves as meals for the yipping canine.
If the fox does reach that level of protection, Cal Department of Fish and Wildlife would be in charge of creating conservation plans as well as issue permits for folks wishing to hunt or capture one of these scampering critters.
In addition to lack of habitat, roadkill accounts for the host of the foxes’ mortality. In 2011, an outbreak of distemper (which was traced near to maybe because of the Genesis Solar facility north of the Ford Dry Lake in Riverside County), also claimed many young kit foxes. The current status of the outbreak is unknown.
Three subspecies of kit foxes have called California home: the desert fox; the San Joaquin kit fox which inhabits its namesake valley in Central California and has been listed as a state-threatened species since 1971, still in decline; and the long-eared kit fox which once inhabited coastal Southern California but is now extinct.