Introduction – Conservation of foxes
Foxes are native to Eurasia and North Africa. In recent years they have been reintroduced in many nations around the world. Their natural habitat includes forests, mountains, wetlands, farmland, urban areas, and towns. There are two primary species of foxes, red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and kit foxes (Vulpa spp.). Red foxes are commonly found throughout Europe and Asia, while kits are commonly seen in parts of the Americas and Australia. These animals play an important role in ecosystems, providing food for predators such as owls, eagles, hawks, weasels, cats, dogs, and coyotes. In turn, these predators prey upon rodents, rabbits, squirrels, mice, shrews, bats, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.
Today we will discuss the Major Challenges To the Conservation Of foxes and how they are affecting the fox population.
Habitat loss is the leading threat facing foxes today. Many countries including Belarus, China, Denmark, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States have lost their wildlands. While some countries like Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Finland still maintain large tracts of wilderness, others do not. As humans continue to change the environment, fox numbers decline. Land use changes cause fragmentation of home ranges, resulting in smaller populations. Human activities like mining, agriculture, forestry, irrigation, logging, and road building destroy habitats where foxes live. Allowing human settlements near wildlife preserves destroys their natural balance and causes them to lose population.
Urbanization has contributed greatly to habitat loss. Humans need land for farming, cities for homes, roads for commerce, and parks for recreation. However, humans tend to take over whatever area is closest to them. As a result, cities have become increasingly fragmented and wildlands have been destroyed. Urban foxes live in city streets, backyards, and yards, often sharing space with domestic pets. Domestic cats are a major contributor to the spread of disease among urban foxes. Cats kill foxes by eating them, causing them to starve or infecting them with fleas, ticks, lice, mites, and parasites.
In addition to threats posed by humans, foxes face threats from hunting as well. Overhunting results in fewer foxes and higher prices. When foxes are hunted, their fur is collected for use in fashion items and clothing. Wildlife officials claim this practice helps protect local fauna, but it actually harms foxes. Fur harvesting kills foxes directly, traps them in cages, and forces them to fight each other for territory and mates. Hunters often capture foxes using cruel methods such as trapping, baiting, shooting, poisoning, snaring, and drowning.
Disease poses a significant danger to foxes. Most fatal cases involve rabies, canine distemper virus, and parvovirus. Other common diseases include sarcoptic mange, demodicosis, otodectics, trichomoniasis, giardiasis, and cryptococcosis. Diseases spread easily between foxes due to close proximity to each other in urban and agricultural environments.
Trapping is a method of capturing individuals for sale at markets, laboratories, zoos, and circuses. Traps may be set in order to catch foxes for commercial purposes or to control foxes for pest control. Traps are commonly placed near garbage bins, pet feeding stations, and dumpsters. Traps range from simple box traps to complex devices called Tomcat boxes. A Tomcat trap consists of a tunnel lined with chicken wire and containing bait. Foxes enter the tunnel and attempt to reach the food. If successful, they fall into the pit of a Tomcat box and are trapped. Foxes are then transported to destinations for sale or research.
Poisoning is another method of killing foxes. Common poisons include zinc phosphide, aluminum phosphide, mercury compounds, lead arsenate, cyanide, thallium acetate, and sodium cyanide. Dogs and cats are known carriers of disease, posing a threat of spreading infectious agents among foxes. Furthermore, some pesticides and rodenticides are toxic to foxes.