The weather is getting better and that’s good news for us! Winter was extremely cold and lasted longer than our team anticipated, making it a less than ideal time to track animals. But now that it’s April and a little bit warmer, there has been a significant increase in animal presence on grounds, even during the night. This is very exciting because we finally caught one on camera!
It is hard to tell, but we believe it’s a fox. Foxes are nocturnal animals, and though they can be seen during the day, they typically hunt during the night. They’re more than capable of surviving in urban and suburban areas, so they should thrive in a college town like Charlottesville.
More specifically, red foxes, (Vulpes vulpes fulva) are the most common species in Virginia. The below map is from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. It highlights the counties and cities in which these foxes are known to live. As you can see, they’re all over the state.
Of course, they still only live in areas that suit their needs. The image was taken behind a residential building on Jefferson Park Avenue (marked by the red “x” on the map below). Though there is activity in this area, there is neither a lot of heavy road traffic nor heavy foot traffic, making it a safe area for the fox to live. This area also provides an opportunity to move around the neighborhood without crossing any dangerous roads and without encountering too many people. In this sense, it turned out that we made correct assumptions about moving the camera further away from central grounds to areas that offer more safety and resources for wild animals.
We have yet to see results on our other cameras. However, we are hopeful. Like stated before, we should see an increase in animal population with an increase in temperature. We are very excited to see what this spring will bring to grounds!
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Species Information: red fox. Retrieved April 17, 2014, from http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/?s=050049
Post by Julia Klaczynski, Second-Year, Civil Engineering