We wanted to update you on a few things this season. The first is that we are planning to add more information about each species’ natural history to the website. Keep checking our website for that information. The second is that we updated the Sightings Maps in February with many new sightings/no sightings reported over the winter. Thank you for your continued efforts!
We currently have about 350 participants and would love to exceed 500 by May. Please pass the word around about our project so that we can reach our goal. We have another Wild Suburbia workshop planned for the end of the month. On March 27th at 7pm, come to Teatown Lake Reservation located at 1600 Spring Valley Rd, Ossining to learn more about the Wild Suburbia Project, the animals, and how you can contribute to the project. Please RSVP to email@example.com. Tell others about the opportunity, and bring your family and friends!
Spring is approaching and many of the species we are studying will soon be raising young, if they haven’t already given birth. Fox, coyote, fisher, bear and bobcat all bear and raise young in dens or other cavities that were either naturally occurring or that they excavated. Dens are most simply defined as shelters used by wild animals for raising young and for protection from inclement weather (heat, cold, storms). Dens are diverse and may include burrows in the soil, tree cavities, rock crevices or dense brush piles.
The size of the den, habitat, bare soil or debris near the entrance, and scat, fur and food remnants can all help determine what animal is using the den. Below we have descriptions of dens that fox, coyote, fisher, bobcat and bear build or use.
If you come across an active den (one that has recently been or is still occupied by an animal), keep your distance! Fox, coyote, fisher, bear and bobcat, and other species that use dens such as raccoon, skunk and otter are wild animals that can become aggressive if they or their young become threatened. In addition, disturbing a den could result in young being moved by the parents to a new area. Be smart, keep your distance and respect your furry neighbor!
Red fox dens are in the ground. They are often on a slope or stream bank located in a forest fairly close to a field or other open area near water. The den can be as long as 25 feet. Fox will frequently use existing burrows made by other animals such as woodchucks. There are often two or more entrances to the den. The main entrance has a conspicuous mound of dirt where signs of feeding and scat can accumulate. Food caches may be buried near the entrance. Fox commonly bed near the entrance so hairs and tracks should be evident.
Red fox build or reoccupy dens shortly after mating, which takes place from mid January to late February. They give birth from March to May. If the den is disturbed or threatened at any time, fox will move their pups to a new den.
Red fox dens are primarily used for bearing and raising young. Very rarely will they seek shelter during inclement weather conditions.
Image from: Imagine Childhood Blog
Image from: High Park Nature Center
Coyote dens are very similar to red fox dens, but are often larger. They may dig their own den, enlarge the den of a fox, or use a cave, log or culvert. They range in size from 5 to 30 feet long. Like fox, coyote often bed near the entrance. Dens are most commonly found in forests, often further from a field or opening than that of a fox.
Mating is from late January to February and young are born from March to May. Like fox, coyote will move their pups to a new den if disturbed or threatened.
Image from: Flickr
Image from: capelinks
Fisher rarely construct their own dens. They will instead use hollow trees, logs, or holes under large boulders for raising young or as temporary resting sites. Maternity dens are most often in hollow trees or tree cavities. They will occasionally line the den with leaves for insulation. Throughout the year fisher will use a variety of temporary denning sites including woodchuck burrows and porcupine dens to escape winter storms or other inclement weather. Dens are mostly found in coniferous or mixed forests where there is a dense canopy.
Breeding is from late February to April and young are born from March to early April the following year (fisher have delayed implantation).
Image from: The Conservation Registry
Image from: Deviantart
Black bear dens are diverse. They can be under fallen trees, in excavated root systems, in hollow standing trees or logs on the ground, caves, rocky crevices, brush piles, culverts, under decks or porches. It is believed that bears gain experience with age and choose better den sites with successive years.
Breeding is from early June to late July, and most dens are built or sought out in the fall. Young are born from late December to February while the mother is denned up for the winter.
Image from: North American Bear Center
Image from: Missouri Black Bear Project
Bobcat dens are also diverse. They use rock crevices, hollow logs, brush piles or build dens under fallen trees. The denning area is usually lined with leaf litter or other dry vegetation. They are most likely to be found in forested areas with rock ledges.
Breeding is from late February to March, and young are born late April to mid May.
Image from: Lake Champlain Organisms
Image from: Super Stock