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Animal Interactions at Wind Energy Facilities – Gray Fox

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Detailed Description

There were two documented gray fox visits at the burrows, making them the third most documented predator. Gray foxes are implicated predators of various life stages of desert tortoises, but it is difficult to catch them in the act. In this case, a gray fox approaches a burrow, and thoroughly investigates the burrow mouth. The fox develops an arch in its tail (slight inverted U-shape) indicative of an alert or hunting behavior. The tail subsequently drops its arch as the fox loses interest and walks away. Scientists presume there was no tortoise in the burrow at this time (the last time a tortoise was seen entering or exiting was a week prior). Although camera traps are a useful monitoring technique, they sometimes fail to yield a complete story - often scientists would see a tortoise enter a burrow, but never leave. This obviously wasn't the case, as during this time tortoises were radio-tracked and they did move about.

Infrastructure associated with wind energy facilities can influence the behavior of animal predators and their prey, according to a recent study by University of California – Davis and the USGS.

Motion-sensor cameras were placed facing the entrances of 46 active desert tortoise burrows in a wind energy facility near Palm Springs, California. Recordings showed that visits to burrows from four predators increased closer to dirt roads, and decreased closer to wind turbines. 




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