Keep Me Wild: Kit Fox

Three kit foxes on den
Kit fox and pup
Kit fox in city
Young kit fox on sand

Introduction

The San Joaquin (SJ) kit fox is a native species that once thrived in grasslands across the Central Valley. However, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, poisons, vehicle strikes, and other factors significantly decreased their population. In 1967, they were listed as a federal endangered species and state listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act in 1971.

SJ kit foxes are highly opportunistic and will eat rodents, insect, dead animals, and unsecured trash, human food or pet food. Increased human presence and access to non-natural food can alter their natural behaviors, diet, and foraging habits. These changes can result in less fear of people and more human-fox interactions as they seek food and raise pups. The city of Bakersfield, with a human population of more than 400,000, is one unique example of an urban population of SJ kit foxes.

Homeowners, Property Owners, Renters

Use wildlife-resistant containers.

  • Always keep trash, recycling, and compost in secure bins. 
  • Clean garbage and recycling bins with bleach or ammonia. 
  • Remove unsecured trash, pet food, and strongly scented items from yard.

Use simple, effective deterrent methods.

  • Bring small pets – and pet food & water bowls - inside at night.
  • Install secure fencing around chicken coops and small animal enclosures.
  • Practice good animal husbandry practices to deter rodents – a natural food source.
  • Eliminate access to potential den sites (e.g., crawl spaces under decks or stairs). Make sure it is unused first.

Use “wildlife-smart” landscaping.

  • Remove bird feeders from yard. 
  • Plant native flowers to attract birds instead. 
  • Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles.
  • Do not feed other wildlife – this will attract kit foxes.

Schools, Parks, and Worksites

As an endangered species, there are many laws that protect the SJ kit fox and their dens. It is unlawful to harass, trap, remove, or relocate a SJ kit fox. Take positive steps to prevent conflict and avoid harming these animals. Learn more!

At Schools & Parks

  • Take down sport nets when not in use - especially at night. Store nets furled and out of reach.
  • Never fill or destroy a potential kit fox burrow. Consult a professional, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or CDFW for assistance. 
  • Do not trap free-roaming cats. Accidentally trapping a kit fox can result in their injury or death. 
  • Avoid using rodent poisons. Kit foxes are at high risk for accidental and secondary poisoning.
  • Place escape ramps at ponds or pits that could trap kit foxes if they fill with water.
  • Pick up trash and litter – Use secure containers to prevent access.
  • Do not feed kit foxes. They are at risk of food conditioning or habituation to people.

At Worksites

  • For major construction projects - Consult with resource agencies early in the planning phase, prior to breaking ground.
  • Never fill or destroy a potential kit fox burrow - Consult with a professional, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or CDFW for assistance. 
  • Place proper exclusion fencing around areas of excavation - Consult with a professional, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or CDFW for assistance.
  • Avoid using rodent poisons. Kit foxes are at high risk for accidental and secondary poisoning.
  • Block the ends of open pipes and other openings to prevent kit foxes from using them as dens. 
  • Place escape ramps at ponds or pits that could trap kit foxes if they fill with water.
  • Pick up trash and litter – Use secure containers to prevent access.
  • Do not feed kit foxes. They are at risk of food conditioning or habituation to people.

Prevention is Key

Adult kit foxes typically weigh 4 to 5 lbs. on average, and usually avoid people and pets. Encounters resulting in human injury – such as from a bite - are rare in California. In some cases, a food conditioned, or habituated kit fox may become too bold and approach people while looking for food. To prevent conflict – Do not feed kit foxes!

If you encounter a kit fox - and it appears healthy:

  • Enjoy the sighting!
  • Keep a safe distance.

If you encounter a kit fox – and it appears sick or injured:

  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Keep children and pets away.
  • Call local Animal Control and CDFW.
  • DO NOT approach, confront, or try to handle it. They may bite if scared or threatened!

If you encounter a kit fox – and it approaches you:

  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Keep children and pets away.
  • Encourage it to leave on its own - Make yourself look bigger and make noise.
  • DO NOT approach, confront, or try to handle it. They may bite if scared or threatened!

If you encounter a kit fox – inside a home, school, or structure:

  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Keep children and pets away.
  • Give the kit fox an escape route. Let it leave on its own.
  • If the kit fox cannot make its way out – Call local Animal Control or CDFW.
  • DO NOT approach, confront, or try to handle it. They may bite if scared or threatened!

NOTE: SJ kit foxes can become entangled in sport nets left out after use, such as school volleyball nets, soccer goals, and baseball batting cages. Net entanglements can cause serious injury, even loss of limbs or death. Remember to take down and store nets out of reach when not in use, especially at night.

Keep Me Wild logo