Vulpes Secceterrum

I’ve lived in the desert for a long time — I grew up here, and I’ve been here six years since I came back from Tennessee. But until tonight, I’d never seen a wild kit fox out in the desert. Only in zoos. But there he was, all tan and with a downward-pointed tail, running across the street and into the sagebrush. Coyote usually point their tails up, so that’s how I figured it wasn’t a coyote pup. And then a second glance showed he was too small for even that.

A cute footnote on what’s otherwise been a crazy day week month.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Predators populations are increasing across the board in North America. More and more food available. They are also coming into contact with humans on a more regular basis. I have mixed feelings on what this means in the longterm but in the short term it is pretty cool for nature lovers.

    • 1 in 40 cars insured in PA gets into a deer crash. Every year.
      *we need more hunters*

    • I must admit, my first thought upon reading this was, “don’t tell Mike, he’ll shoot it”.

      • Those kinds of critters are safe from me. I only shoot what I can eat. That’s why I leave the coyotes alone around here.

        • You’re welcome to come shoot some of ours. I got home after dark a few nights ago to find the “local” pack in the creek bed behind my house. My dogs are reasonably safe behind their six-foot fence, but I still felt compelled to rush to get them inside.

  2. The State finally accepted that there are big cats around here. There’s been a few of them sighted on deer cams.
    I saw one going across the road one night; almost as big as a St. Bernard, but with a gait unlike a dog. The back moved in a straight horizontal line– no up-and-down motion. I knew it was a cat.

    I saw a black bear laying dead on the road headed toward the Wabash River last year.
    They tell me that, officially, there’s no bear around in that area; that they were all killed off a long time ago. It will probably take a deer cam to set them straight.
    I know a bear when I see one.

    • We’re starting to get mountain lion sightings here but I think the fish & wildlife guys are still pretty unconvinced. I’m agnostic on the subject though admittedly kind of terrified of running into one in the woods someday. I’ve always been lucky here that nothing I hunt would be inclined to kill me if it gets the chance.

      • *snort* humans are great at seeing patterns. Not so great at figuring out what those patterns ARE. Bobcats get confused for housecats all the time (then the kid gets cut up, and everyone makes a fuss)

      • This is true in southern Michigan, too. The DNR is skeptical, but a friend of mine showed me a picture of a cat in her back yard that was absolutely and indisputably a mountain lion.

        • True, they’re a little smaller than you might initially think if you’ve got tigers and cheetah on your mind. But a cat is a cat; their posture is distinctive, especially when hunting. Not a creature with which to mess around.

          • My friend actually asked me if it was a bobcat, because she couldn’t believe it could be a mountain lion. But not only is not not possible to actually confuse the two, she had a good clear picture of the thing, from about the middle of the torso up to the head. That head couldn’t be anything else in the world.

            I think it’s cool, but it’s also a bit nervewracking, given the number of kids in unfenced yards there are.

  3. The only time I saw a kit fox was one night in Bakersfield, when I saw some weird critter with huge ears flit across the road. I quickly made a u-turn and followed it down a residential street until I got a good look at it. Cool little buggers.

    I also only saw a roadrunner once, although my father in law saw them frequently on his drive from the SCV to the AV (taking the back way over the mountains).

    • I’ve had roadrunners come up to within two feet of me while I was asleep out in the mountains.
      My grandma used to have a pet roadrunner. She called it her ‘pet’ anyway; it was more like the thing was friendly with her.

    • Roadrunners I see with middling frequency out in the high desert. Not as common as quail, hawks, bats, or owls, but more common than eagles or condors.

      But the kit fox was a pretty special thing to see.

      • I drove across the Grapevine up to 5 days a week for two years, always praying I’d see a condor straying East from the refuge. Never. If you’ve seen one all the way over in the AV, I’m both jealous of and happy for you.

  4. I live in one of Denver’s western suburbs. We’re down on the flat, don’t extend up into the foothills like Boulder does. Still, we have lion and bear encounters from time to time. This year, within easy walking distance of my house — and I’m not out on the edge of town — I have seen coyote, red fox, racoon, skunk, and possum. Plus deer and all of the usual small game. From the bicycle trails along a couple of the creeks closer to Denver itself I’ve seen muskrats, a large variety of water fowl, and fresh beaver work on some of the smaller trees (but not the beavers themselves). The city has put heavy duty wire mesh up around the bigger trees to keep the beavers from killing those. The railroad right-of-ways and the green belts along the bigger creeks and irrigation ditches provide wildlife “highways” that run (in some cases) all the way from the foothills to downtown Denver.

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