Oregon wildlife biologists are looking for volunteers to help them in the effort to survey Sierra Nevada red foxes in the Central Oregon Cascades.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is teaming up with Washington State University on the project to use game cameras to document where the foxes live on the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests.
ODFW says volunteers will help check cameras in remote areas and must be competent hikers.
“Getting into areas that Sierra Nevada red foxes inhabit takes strong legs and a good attitude,” Marwa Mahmoud, WSU graduate researcher and project leader, said in a press release. “We can hike upward of 15 miles a day, carrying camera equipment and sometimes staying overnight in the backcountry and we would love to have some enthusiastic recreationists help out on the project.”
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ODFW says there will be a chance to track wildlife on the way and pick up potential Sierra Nevada red fox scats — fecal samples.
Those scats, ODFW says, contain genetic information that can help biologists understand what the animals are eating, if they are healthy and how they compete with other animals for resources.
ODFW says red fox populations in Oregon are not federally listed, though they are an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species, and have experienced a decline over the past century.
“These secretive carnivores are notoriously elusive and difficult to document,” Kaly Adkins, ODFW regional wildlife conservation biologist, said in a statement. “The more help we can get from interested volunteers to help us cover the extensive habitat, the better.”
Volunteers can sign up by visiting https://odfwvolunteer.wufoo.com/forms/odfw-volunteer-registration-level-0-all-ages and selecting “Red Fox Tracking in Oregon Cascades – Support Role” on page two of the registration form.
Those who want to help search independently can also share their observations through ODFW’s community science portal on iNaturalist. Instructions for submitting observations can be found at this link.
The project is partly funded by a Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund.