Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Up until recently, the Eurasian Red Fox and the North American Red Fox were considered two distinct species ............At this time, most authorities agree that a red fox is a red fox(same species) on both sides of the Atlantic and in fact existed in North America prior to European Colonization......Our native gray fox, a woodland, tree-climbing fox not often seen in fields and pastures(able to avoid Coyotes better than Red's due to that tree climbing), became less common as forests yielded to farms............... Gray foxes are still found throughout the the East especially where woodlots have grown up over the past Century.................Both species of Fox(Red and Gray) find the key to survival in systems where they are sympatric with Coyotes is to live on the margins of Coyote territories-----in the case of Red Foxes, often closer into human habitation,--In the case of Gray Foxes, to maintain territories in deeper woodlands(as Coyotes prefer the edges of woodlands)

For Foxes, Spring is Already Here | Northern Woodlands Magazine

For Foxes, Spring is Already Here

For Foxes, Spring is Already Here image
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol
Last week, on a dark, late-winter night, one of those all-too-familiar winter nights when the sky is clear and the temperature has fallen well below zero, I heard the call of a red fox – a short run of sharp yips and barks, then a long, emaciated howl, smaller and daintier than the drawn-out voice of a coyote. Our border collie was beside himself with excitement.
I knew the fox – all winter he had been marking the snow near our house. But tonight, as Orion climbed in the southern sky, the fox broadcast his urgent message out loud. Tracking him later, I saw that he had just awoken from his bed, and once his blood began to flow and his leg muscles were loosened, he had wandered into the night. After a few steps, he squirted urine on a withered milkweed stem, then headed for our lower pasture. With his urine, the fox was running a classified advertisement, announcing both his presence and his desire. More drops down the post of our hemlock fence.
Red fox urine is strong stuff that has a faint skunky smell, and he used it like semiprecious fluid – a few drops here, a few drops there. If it is fresh, I can smell it without bending down. But if it’s old, then my border collie – who can read weathered urine – knows that a cunning predator slightly bigger than a tabby has passed through the pasture. As the annual jolt of testosterone coursed through the fox’s body, he was seeking company, attempting to reestablish a pair bond with last year’s vixen or to attract a new mate by peeing everywhere. His trail stained the snow and the air.
When I studied mammals in college, we called the red fox Vulpes fulva, which distinguished it as a separate species from the Eurasian red fox, Vulpes vulpes. Now, however, the relationship between the two species of red fox is clouded, and most authorities agree that red foxes are the same species on both sides of the Atlantic. Since scientists described the Old World fox first, the name Vulpes vulpes has replaced Vulpes fulva.
What complicates the issue is that some biologists suggest that prior to the arrival of Europeans, the red fox was absent or scarce over much of North America. In the middle of the 18th century, European colonists – missing the sport of kings – brought the Eurasian red fox to America, and over the next 50 years, the animals spread throughout southern New England and the mid-Atlantic states. A century later, they had reached Georgia. If red foxes were present prior to these introductions, then the animals here now are mongrels – hybrids with both Old and New World blood.(see peer reviewed article below that negates this statement---in fact, Red Wolves did exist in North America prior to European entry--Blogger Rick)
But pre-Columbian fossils taken from Pennsylvanian caves and archeological digs are all from gray, not red, foxes, and the artist John James Audubon believed that much of America in the 18th century was without red foxes. So where was the true North American red fox at the time the Mayflower dropped anchor? They were apparently only in the far north – in the arctic and subarctic.
Blood typing and DNA studies by biologists indicate that our red fox of today, the one that stains the night with both urine and voice, is probably a flatlander – a descendant of the introduced strain of Eurasian fox.
Our native gray fox, a woodland, tree-climbing fox not often seen in fields and pastures, became scarce in New Hampshire and Vermont as forests yielded to farms. Gray foxes are still found throughout the Connecticut River Valley, but are most common now in the wooded portions of the Champlain Valley.
As I tracked the red fox near our house, I saw that he had crossed the pasture and headed up the wooded hillside, loping across the frozen snow. Halfway up the hill, he must have caught scent of the vixen that had walked down from the ridge. His pace quickened. With ears bent forward, he probably yapped – short, sharp yaps – then pranced like a frisky colt. Alongside a fallen maple, the vixen had left her mark, a few drops of bright red estrus blood amid a splash of golden yellow urine. He knew from the blood’s rich odor that the vixen, too, was ready to breed.
By early morning, he had crossed a second wetland, nearly a mile from the ridge. Her scent grew fresher, almost overpowering. A long line of tracks snaked across the marsh. At the end sat the vixen. The dome of arctic air that had settled over the Connecticut River valley never chilled the fox. The wind picked up, temperatures plunged. Eighteen below zero. But the fox’s blood boiled with a seasonal urgency. And beneath that vaulted March sky, now flush with the rising sun, the two red foxes came together.
Ted Levin is a naturalist and freelance writer living in Thetford Center, VT.

Eastern Coyote(Coywolf

click here to read the literature that we have been able
 to find regarding how red and gray foxes
fare when sympatric with Eastern Coyotes(Coywolves)

gray fox-able to elude Coyotes by climbing trees



Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are native to boreal and western montane portions of North America but their origins are unknown in many lowland areas of the United States. Red foxes were historically absent from much of the East Coast at the time of European settlement and did not become common until the mid-1800s. Some early naturalists described an apparent southward expansion of native foxes that coincided with anthropogenic habitat changes in the region.
 Alternatively, red foxes introduced from Europe during Colonial times may have become established in the east and subsequently expanded their range westward. The red fox also was absent historically from most lowland areas of the western United States. Extant populations of red foxes in those areas are considered to have arisen from intentional introductions from the east (and by extension are putatively European), escapes or releases from fur farms, or range expansions by native populations.
 To test these hypotheses we compared mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome band D-loop) from 110 individuals from 6 recently established populations to 327 native (primarily historical) individuals from Eurasia, Alaska, Canada, the northeastern United States, and montane areas in the western contiguous United States, and to 38 individuals from fur farms
red fox

 We found no Eurasian haplotypes in North America, but found native haplotypes in recently established populations in the southeastern United States and in parts of the western United States. Red foxes from the southeastern United States were closely related to native populations in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, suggesting that they originated from natural range expansions, not from translocation of European lineages, as was widely believed prior to this study.
 Similarly, recently established populations in the Great Basin and in western Oregon originated primarily from native populations in western montane regions, but also contained a few nonnative North American haplotypes. In contrast, populations in western Washington and southern California contained nonnative, highly admixed stock that clearly resulted from intracontinental translocations. Several common haplotypes in these populations originated in regions where fur-farm stocks originated.
 Although European red foxes translocated to the eastern United States during Colonial times may have contributed genetically to extant populations in that region, our findings suggest that most of the matrilineal ancestry of eastern red foxes originated in North America.
Statham, M. J., B. N. Sacks, K. B. Aubry, J. D. Perrine, and S. M. Wisely. 2012. The origin of recently established red fox populations in the United States: translocations or natural range expansions?. Journal of Mammalogy 93(1):52-65.


Anonymous said...

Here I go, commenting on yet another Red Fox post! This is a controversy I've gotten into with numerous folks in the past, that VEHEMENTLY INSIST that Red Foxes are an introduced species in North America. I can give these folks all manner of hard evidence throughout history of the fallacy of this(that they can look up for themselves if they don't want to take my word for it!), but it is(for some reason), a stubbornly cherished notion that the uninformed refuse to let go!(Including Audobon--I've read his account too!) In my debates with others over the years, I have found evidence to contradict the "import only" status of the Red Fox in North America all over the place. Old Hudson Bay trapping records from the North and west in North America--very EARLY records, I might add. Lewis and Clark's expedition sent back several Red Fox skins taken(along with all manner of other "specimens") from the Missouri river to the Pacific coast. There ARE fossil records of Red Fox remains all over North America--including the East--depending on which study you study! Not too mention there are several distinct subspecies developed--like the distinct looking Red Foxes in Alaska, which of course could not have diverged in the short time since the European releases. I think most of these "import" theorists cannot fathom WHY Red Foxes were imported if there were already Red Foxes here. But(as I try to explain) it could have been for any number(or all) of several reasons. Perhaps there were none(or few) in the Eastern locals where the first sport fox hunters were. Perhaps because it was a region with formerly poor red fox habitat(I. e.--too thickly forested), or even perhaps because some epidemic disease like distemper had temporarily wiped out the local population--fox populations DO fluctuate quite a bit due to various diseases at times. Another notion I've had is that, as most fox hunters know, foxes that have never been pursued by hounds before are quite naïve, and as a consequence, give "poor sport"--it takes awhile for "hound savvy" foxes to predominate in a hunted population(first, you have to survive the hounds!!!). I can just hear those old time British(mostly) hunters despairing of the "native foxes" in America, and wanting some REAL sporty, true, great ruddy hill foxes from dear Olde England and Scotland! And anyone who has hobnobbed with many hunters(as I have in the past) knows that whatever numbers of their favorite game are around are NEVER enough for them! They'll import and release them constantly trying to boost numbers! Anyway, I don't disagree that Red Foxes WERE imported(plenty of evidence of that, too!), just that, because they were, DOESN'T mean they weren't already here! Just WHERE, exactly, is the only real question, and if not so much in the East, WHY? There WAS ample excellent Red Fox habitat in the East before European settlement, despite erroneous ideas to the contrary(perhaps a subject for another post....)...L.B.

Coyotes, Wolves and Cougars forever said... you say, good habitat here,,,,,,,,,,,,all the science supports red fox in America prior to any introductions.........your comments about hunters wanting a "shooting gallery" of their favorite quarry is spot on