BEND, Ore. - Bend's High Desert Museum has a new wildlife ambassador: a juvenile gray fox from Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center in Grants Pass.
The young male fox was brought to their rehab center in September because it was ill and exhibiting some neurological deficiencies. While being nursed back to health, the fox exhibited some unusual behavior, including not being fearful of humans.
Wildlife Images and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that despite the best efforts to correct the behavior, the best option for the fox was to place him in a permanent facility as an educational ambassador.
“We are excited to add this new species to the Museum’s wildlife collection,” said the museum’s executive director, Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “Gray foxes are secretive and mostly nocturnal in nature, so this is a great opportunity to introduce a unique wildlife species to our members and guests.”
Gray foxes have silver-gray fur on the back and face; reddish fur behind the ears, chest and legs and patches of white on the throat and belly. The black-tipped tail is approximately 1/3 the fox’s body length.
A member of the dog family (Canidae), gray foxes have strong, hooked claws that enable them to climb trees to hunt birds and small mammals or take shelter in tree cavities or abandoned bird nests.
Though the gray fox is rarely found in the High Desert area of Oregon, the species is widely distributed from southern Canada, across most of the U.S. and into portions of South America.
“Our wildlife staff will work with the fox and use him to educate visitors about carnivore conservation in our region, and efforts by various nonprofits and governmental agencies to study the distribution, abundance and ecological significance of carnivores, including rare species such as the Sierra Nevada red fox in Central Oregon,” said Jon Nelson, the museum’s curator of wildlife.
If all goes well with the fox’s training, the museum plans to include the fox in the daily Desert Dwellers program starting this spring. Visit the Museum’s website at www.highdesertmuseum.org to view the daily schedule or contact the Museum at 541-382-4754 ext. 241 for more information.