The following is an update on our UW campus foxes and coyotes submitted in late December by Marcus Mueller, a wildlife ecology graduate student involved in the Urban Canid Project. The project, led by CALS wildlife ecologist David Drake, seeks to better understand urban canids and help support their peaceful coexistence in urban areas. Mueller shared:

We now have three radio-collared red foxes that use the campus area (two males, one female). The foxes each have large ranges, and campus only makes up a portion of their ranges. One male, in particular, frequently visits campus, Hoyt Park and the UW-Arboretum. This relatively large range seems to be pretty typical of the foxes in Madison, although no formal analyses have taken place yet. Only one of our study animals has died so far; the first red fox we caught in January of 2015 was struck by a vehicle during rush hour on Campus Drive, near the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Graduate student Marcus Mueller carries a coyote to be examined by researchers. Photos by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison University Communications.
Graduate student Marcus Mueller carries a coyote to be examined. Photos by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison University Communications.

Unfortunately, we were not able to capture and radio-collar any of last year’s kits from the campus den, so we do not have any information on how they fared. We suspect the foxes will be using their campus dens to raise kits again this spring; several of the radio-collared adult foxes have been tracked to the dens and use them frequently.

The coyotes in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve have a much smaller range compared to the foxes. They spend the majority of their time in the preserve, only venturing out into surrounding neighborhoods on rare occasions. We are currently monitoring three adult coyotes from this group (one male, two females).

A relatively new facet of our project includes tagging animals with brightly-colored, unique combinations of ear tags and relying on the public to report sightings of them. This will help us to better understand patterns of habituation and activity, and it should allow us to be more proactive in responding to potential conflict with urban coyotes and red foxes. More information on this reporting system can be found here:

Note: The Urban Canid Project was the focus of a recent UW news release. Read it here.