Archive for January, 2015

Today I got a good look a trail of red fox tracks.



Where a back foot stepped in the same place as the front foot.


This is likely the same fox I’m getting on trail cam, and because these tracks were just yards away from one of my camera, I made sure I put out some more red fox urine near the camera.

I’m running low on red fox urine, so I’m going to have to buy some more. Red foxes will be in throes of their mating season in just a few weeks, so fox urine will get the attention of any breeding dog fox in the area.

Red foxes are the low dogs on the totem pole. Coyotes kill them, and gray foxes drive them out their territories. So red fox urine can attract those two species as well.

The first time Miley got a good smell of red fox urine, she rolled in it!

So it’s obviously attractive to canids.

I hope to get some decent photos of some red foxes now, but there are no guarantees.

For all I know, I’ll probably get a bear!




Read Full Post »

neapolitann monster

There might be a few things wrong this dog.

This dog is gonna take on the gladiators and all the Germanic tribes at once!



Read Full Post »

Fat winter deer

PRMS0003This winter hasn’t been terrible for the deer.

They spent the entire autumn fattening up on a massive white oak acorn mast, and even now, there are still tons of acorns on the ground for wildlife to eat.

My guess is that this year, there will be more than a few does giving birth to triplets.



Read Full Post »

Sun dog

DSC02923Gold dog. January sun.  Snow-covered field.



Read Full Post »

On a snowy trail

snowy trail

Read Full Post »

sierra nevada red fox .

The above photo was captured by trail camera Yosemite National Park. It is of a Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator). It is an endangered subspecies of red fox that is found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California as well as the Cascades of Oregon. This is the first that has been sighted in Yosemite in nearly a century.

Red foxes are a complicated species. They are the most widespread wild carnivoran in the world right now. Some populations of red fox have been introduced. Obviously, they were introduced to Australia, and until very recently, it was assumed that red foxes in the Eastern and Southern US were introduced as well.  It turns out that they are native, and their lineage split from the Old World population 400,000 years ago.

Now, this is where the status of red foxes in California gets tricky.

For a long time, it was assumed that all red foxes but the Sierra Nevada subspecies were derived from Eastern red foxes, which, as mentioned earlier, were assumed to be derived from English foxes. Red foxes outside of the Sierra Nevada mountains were said to be an invasive species, and the policy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has been to target them as a species that needs culling. They do cause problems with ground-nesting birds, and they even cause problems with the San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica), an endangered subspecies of kit fox.

But things get complicated. A recent study of California red fox mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite clustering revealed that the Sierra Nevada red fox is not the only indigenous subspecies in the state. It turns out that the Sacramento Valley population of red foxes are actually quite closely related to the Sierra Nevada subspecies. (The paper called the Sierra subspecies the “montane” red fox).

It is possible that the Sacremanto Valley subspecies, tentatively called Vulpes vulpes patwin, could start to lose its genetic distinctiveness if it starts mating with Eastern red foxes that are currently found in the Monterey and San Francisco bay marshes.

These animals are all the same species, and it takes an expert to tell them apart solely by appearance.

So sorting these animals out between native and introduced is going to be quite tricky.

Red foxes as a species are doing very well. They are part of the mesopredator release swarm that wildlife managers are trying to deal with.

But there are unique forms of red fox that aren’t just the average Charlie or Reynard.  Sometimes, the subspecies actually does matter.


Read Full Post »


Read Full Post »

merle french bulldog

Merle is one those things.

The color itself is inherited through an incompletely dominant allele, which means you can easily transmit it from breed to breed. All you have to do is cross a merle dog of one breed with a breed that doesn’t yet have the color, and then you just breed back into that second breed until the dogs all look like like that breed, just with the merle color.

The problem with the color is that it can be risky.  It is often frowned upon to breed merle to merle, because there is risk that some of the puppies that are born double merle can have closed ear canals or eye deformities that might be as severe as the dog having no eyes at all.

All the breeds that have a standard merle color have a way of dealing with this problem, though, to be fair, not all breeders follow those guidelines.

The problem happens when you have cryptic merles– dogs that have the merle variant but you can’t tell by looking at them.  The dog simply doesn’t show the pattern at all, and when someone breeds that merle to a known merle, you can get the defective puppies.

Also merle can be hidden in yellow or cream colored dogs, simply because they don’t produce any pigment on their fur but yellow or cream. French bulldogs come in this color. (Though I don’t think their fancier use this name).

So you could run a risk in creating double merles entirely upon accident.

Now the dog in the photo doesn’t look to be that far removed from the crossbreeding that introduced the merle variant into that particular strain of French bulldog. But there are breeders who are producing merle French bulldogs with much more typical conformation.

I don’t see the point in adding merle to a breed that also comes in cream or yellow. It’s way too risky.

I’m sure the French bulldog clubs are thrilled to know that this color is being produced. It’s not a standard color in the breed.

But the issue is managing merle in a breed population, and I guarantee that the people who started producing these dogs aren’t thinking about breed management issues.

People love that merle color, but if it’s going to exist in any breed, there have to be guidelines about how to produce it.

Otherwise, it’s just asking for misery.

It’s better off left out of most breeds.


Read Full Post »


This is not one of those dogs that craps in the house because of a little cold dew on the ground.

A thick, double coat and a body without exaggeration, and it’s an all terrain model.

I like a dog that looks like a dog, and it goes without saying that it better be a smart one, too.

Through selective breeding we can shape dog muscle and bone, but in a lot of ways, we’ve selected for terrible structure in the name of vanity.

If a dog can’t enjoy a good run in the snow, it’s really missing out on one of the greatest features of being a dog.

As we all know, dogs have a hard time ridding themselves of heat, but when they get to run in the snow, it’s like they are getting a constant cooling splash with every galloping stride.

Which makes them run harder than they normally would.

The cooling effect of the snow splashing up on their bodies gives them just that little edge they need to go wild in the snow cover.

It is truly a beautiful thing to observe.





Read Full Post »

Remarkable discovery in the snow!

Thylacine sighting



Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: