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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Social and biological aspects of non-native red fox management in California


Since the late 1800s, non-native red foxes have been introduced in California for fur farming and fox hunting. Dispersal, population growth, and extensive translocations by humans have aided the expansion of the nonnative fox population throughout many of the lowland and coastal areas of the state. Since the 1980s, non-native red foxes have been recognized as predators of a number of endangered species. Trapping and euthanizing non-native red foxes have been used as methods to protect these endangered species, but have been opposed by some members of the public. Opposition by animal rights groups to red fox trapping and euthanization has significantly influenced the management actions and policies of wildlife agencies. Red foxes are among the wildlife species commonly recognized in our culture; however, their historical use as a commodity and a game animal, and their impact on several endangered species, make them a difficult and controversial species to manage. Both fox biology and the public place great demands on wildlife agencies to develop new, proactive management strategies for non-native red foxes.

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