Seeing ghosts

I am getting better at tracking foxes. I stand at the corner of two footpads in the forest and know that there will be a scat there, somewhere, if I look hard enough. The reek of a scent-post cuts across my nostrils, even while I am thinking of other things. Driving down a sandy road, I turn a corner and somehow know that it is a good place to set a trap. Sure enough, there are fox prints in the sand and two days later I capture Rusty.

Fox footprint

Sandy soil makes tracking much easier!

The tracks of extinct species, however, are fainter. Continue reading

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Trespassing

It’s dark. It’s raining (it nearly always is – this area gets over two metres rainfall a year). The chunky 4WD tyres are slick with mud. And in front of us is a sign with huge red letters: NO TRESSPASSING. KEEP OUT. And a high barb-wired fence. Damn.

We’re looking for Rush. Rush is a young male fox I fitted with a GPS tracking collar a month ago. He used to live in a small patch of recently burnt forest, holing up in a tree-fern gully during the day and then scouting through the bush and nearby paddocks overnight. A concise home-range, only a kilometre across, which overlapped neatly with Cinnamon’s – I suspect they are siblings. But this morning his collar sent me an email from a completely new location, nearly 4 km from where he’s been before (very funky technology, this! Saves me an incredible amount of driving in circles looking for non-existent foxes).

Rush-the-fox waking up

Rush-the-fox, shortly after I fitted him with a tracking collar (Photo: Lauren Engledow)

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