The UW Urban Canid Project (UWUCP) began with a pilot study in January 2014. After coyotes were routinely seen on the western part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and a family of red foxes was observed living under a campus building, questions surrounding the new neighbors prompted Dr. David Drake to investigate why they were here. In recent years, urban areas have been shown to provide ample resources to support fox and coyote populations, but questions still remained. What exactly are they eating? Where are they spending their time? Are they dangerous?
Dr. Drake, along with an undergraduate student studying wildlife ecology, set out to radio-collar two foxes and two coyotes in January 2014. After a successful trapping season and continued public interest in the prospective research, Dr. Drake brought on a graduate student to further expand the research and trapping continues seasonally today!
The UW Urban Canid Project seeks to learn about these animals for several reasons. Traditionally, much of the knowledge and research on foxes and coyotes has been from rural or wild settings. With urbanization continually increasing, the UWUCP studies how these animals use the urban landscape and how their life histories and behaviors change as a result. A big part of this involves their relationship with humans. The UWUCP aims to better understand these urban adapters so that citizens and wildlife managers alike can be more proactive in how they respond to these animals. More knowledge and understanding will lead to less conflicts.
To study these urban canines, animals are live-trapped and radio-collared. These collars allow researchers to remotely monitor the animals’ locations without having to see or disturb them. Collecting location data over a long period of time allows researchers to better understand where animals are spending their time and what factors may be drawing them there. Blood, nasal, and fecal samples are also collected to analyze what diseases are prevalent in the fox and coyote populations in Madison. Understanding the health of these canines can have direct implications when it comes to the health of domestic animals.
Citizen involvement is crucial to this research. These animals interact with humans on a daily basis, most often without ever being noticed. The UWUCP involves citizens and students living in Madison in almost all aspects of the research from trapping to data collection.This page is optimized for printing