Gray Fox in Southern Calif (second-hand report)

A foothill / desert habitat site an hour and half from LAX may be good for Gray Fox right now. Devils Punchbowl County Park ranges from 4,500 to 6,800 feet and features exposed sandstone formations in pinon-juniper habitat on the E side of the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s a popular day-hiking site on weekends.

According to the head ranger, Gray Foxes are at a peak right now, and on Saturday and Sunday evenings, come around the picnic areas by the main parking lot to forage for trash. No doubt the drought increases this behavior, but the rangers also feel the population just is at a high count anyway, as opposed to years when canine distemper or other causes create a die-off.

I did not see this myself—I was on site midday, for an art event— but even in the middle of the day, the picnic food for my event was being guarded / locked up, since supposedly the foxes can be quite brazen.

Other good mammals would be much less likely; mountain lion tracks are seen (maybe weekly?); a week ago the ranger had a black bear in his garden. Occasionally big horn sheep are seen on a feature called the Devils Chair. If you’re birding, nearby is St. Andrews Abbey; this site’s lushly watered and oasis-like grounds are almost always very birdy.

Charles Hood, Palmdale

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