San Joaquin Kit Fox Survey Technique Utilizes Rescued Dogs
Located in Merced County, California, the 501-acre Dutchman Creek Conservation Bank, was established to preserve its intact vernal pool/open grasslands complex. This habitat supports a range of listed species including vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and the San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) (“SJKF”). Surveying for many of these species can be a difficult task, especially for the elusive and nocturnal SJKF, so it is with great anticipation and excitement we have partnered with Working Dogs for Conservation (“WDC”) to assist in SJKF survey efforts.
A Montana-based non-profit organization, WDC has developed an intense detection training program using rescue dogs from throughout the United States for search and rescue, narcotics, cadaver, and animal survey operations in a number of countries across the globe.
WDC has over a decade of experience surveying for the kit fox. For these surveys, dogs are trained to identify the hard-to-find scat of the SJKF, which serves as a monitor for the species use of the site – a condition of the bank’s approving regulatory agencies. In addition, surveys performed by the dogs and their human handlers identify the most suitable locations for the installation of motion detection cameras, which will be established in 2015 to assist in additional monitoring of the site.