Kit foxes in Bakersfield


San Joaquin kit fox wearing a tracking collar.
Photo: Curley Sweet, USFWS.

If you know anything about California, Bakersfield is probably one of the last places you'd imagine finding much sympathy for endangered species. Los Angeles? Maybe. Hollywood? Yes. San Francisco? Absolutely. But Bakersfield? Well, yes. At least if you're a San Joaquin kit fox.

Or maybe I should say "Yes and no." The cat-sized San Joaquin kit fox is one of the most endangered animals in California. It's only about 20 inches long, and weighs only 5 pounds (source). Fewer than 7000 are left. And some of them live in Bakersfield, where they're causing problems for the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District.

Michael Brouse, the district's business manager, said nobody can recall "a student-kit fox encounter," but the animals can pose a problem. They leave copious droppings. They get tangled in soccer nets. And, to the chagrin of administrators, they love schools, with their wide-open campuses, brown-bag lunches, and strict adherence to environmental regulations. (source)
Seems that they like it in town, because there aren't as many coyotes -- and many residents are setting out food for them.

"Bakersfield in the past hasn't necessarily been the most endangered-species-sympathetic area," Cypher said, "but many people enjoy having the foxes around."

For 10 years, Linda DeRose, a 71-year-old retired teacher, has watched foxes skitter around the portable classrooms at Stockdale Elementary School across from her house. "Everybody who sees them really likes them. They're really cute, they run real fast, they have big ears. It's amazing they're able to exist in such proximity to people."
Occasionally, it seems that we humans are able to help out an endangered species without even trying (much).