The San Joaquin kit fox weighs only 5 pounds and is just 29 inches long (including its fluffy tail). It's also federally endangered. That's why the California Department of Transportation held pre-construction training sessions on the species. Engineers, contractors, and sub-contractors learned how to distinguish the kit fox from the red fox, gray fox, and coyote and how to identify potential kit fox dens and tracks. They also learned easy ways of protecting the kit fox - from removing food trash from the site each day to covering steep-walled holes and ditches to inspecting pipes wider than 4 inches. The training was repeated on lengthy jobs for new personnel. On job sites like State Route 99 near Bakersfield, where workers rightly guessed an enlarged squirrel hole was a kit fox den, a 24-hour on-call biologist came to the scene to seal the hole once the fox had left. About 60 kit foxes have been seen on central-California highway projects since the training, and none have been harmed by construction activities.
--Apr 25, 2003
|Photo by B. "Moose" Peterson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|