Talking to strangers

‘Are your fox collars brown with a big black lump on one side?’ asked the woman on the phone.

‘Yup, sounds like them. Why?’

‘Umm, I’ve got one here. My friend found it on a dead fox on the road.’

Damn, damn. At that stage, I only had collars on two foxes and now I was back to one again.

I picked the collar up from her friend’s letterbox on my next field trip and sure enough it was Fern’s. Talk about a death-wish! The first fox I ever caught, she had been slightly too small to collar back in December, just an over-grown cub. Then I had re-caught her in late January and been so happy to find that she’d gained enough weight to fit with a GPS collar.

'Gully' - the other fox I had collared at the time

‘Gully’ – the other fox I had collared at the time

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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