Two of the foxes being studied by UWRP in Silicon Valley. Adult male Creek on the right, and his pup at left. Photo by Bill Leikam
UWRP founders Greg and Bill out foxing. Photo by Rebecca Jackrel
“What does the fox say?” asks the group Ylvis in their now famous song. Researcher Bill Leikam has some answers. His nickname, The Fox Guy, is well earned. Having spent many hours in the field observing, he is like the Jane Goodall of the gray fox world. He immerses himself in the study of the urban foxes of Silicon Valley as fully as Jane did with the chimpanzees of Gombe. His research partner, Greg Kerekez, is a wildlife conservation photographer and videographer, who’s work captures the natural beauty and wildlife diversity of Silicon Valley, while educating the public to be stewards of their environment.
Together they have formed the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP), and their work has documented a group of urban foxes, detailing scientifically important behaviors such as the “fox kiss” greeting, communal raising of young, and complicated territorial behaviors. Admittedly, their research subjects are also endearing. Meet some of the family of foxes they study:
Bold fought her “father” for the natal den and won. She is the matron of all female foxes at the baylands. Photo by Bill Leikam
“Cute” lives along a creek that has a high concentration of Gray Foxes which leads to some very interesting territory and pup rearing behaviors. Photo by Greg Kerekes.
After dispersing on schedule from the den, she returned and was fully accepted back into the “family.” Photo by Bill Leikam
Beyond documenting the behavior of the foxes, Bill and Greg have been tracking their occurrences around the bay with a grand vision in mind—to create a comprehensive San Francisco Bay Area Wildlife Corridor to ensure the protection of the region’s rich natural heritage.
Examples abound of wildlife trying to adapt to urban spaces in Silicon Valley, such as a family of foxes making a home on the Facebook campus, peregrine falcons nesting on the eighteenth floor of San Jose City Hall, and beavers returning to the downtown area of the Guadalupe River Parkway after a 150 year absence. Yet these isolated wildlife success stories aren’t enough. Without connectivity, wildlife has a precarious future in Silicon Valley and beyond.
UWRP’s vision for a SF Bay Area Wildlife Corridor. Photo from Google Earth and Greg Kerekes
National Wildlife Federation is proud to announce a new partnership with UWRP to support their important research with gray foxes, burrowing owls, beavers and other area wildlife to map, protect, and enhance the wildlife corridors that they use to travel from one region to another.
Watch a video about this exciting new project between UWRP and NWF:
We need your help to make this vital wildlife corridor a reality. Your donation today will support UWRP’s research and ensure a future for the foxes—and all wildlife of Silicon Valley.
Gray fox named Tippy. Photo by Greg Kereke