ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Zoo, Washington University, and the Endangered Wolf Center are working together to determine if the way Missouri foxes, coyotes, and bobcats live can determine the overall health of an ecosystem.
The study called the Canid Conservation Initiative is taking place in a rural area at the Tyson Research Center near Eureka, Missouri and also in a suburban area at the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park in north St. Louis County.
Researchers have trapped these animals in humane cage traps and then placed a GPS tracking device, similar to a dog collar, on the animal. A successful way of getting these animals into the traps is by baiting them with road-killed deer provided to the researchers from the Endangered Wolf Center. While the animal is in the researcher’s care, samples of the animal’s blood, hair, and feces are taken. Researchers have also taken samples from opossums and raccoons because foxes, coyotes, and bobcats also interact with them.
The St. Louis Zoo said the researchers are “over 200 trap-nights” in, and so far, they have taken samples from 16 opossums, 12 raccoons, one red fox, and two bobcats.
Researchers are following the data of the red fox and two bobcats running free in Missouri wearing one of the GPS devices.
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