Carnivorous mammals in United States cities


This 2012 video from the USA says about itself:

Bobcat Prey | Wild Mississippi

A bobcat sneaks up on a hungry rabbit emerging from its burrow.

Now, about not so wild areas.

From North Carolina State University in the USA:

Can multiple carnivores coexist in cities?

Bobcats, coyotes, foxes seek green spaces in the suburbs

April 16, 2019

Summary: A new citizen science study shows how urbanization may affect interactions between carnivores in small suburban forest patches, using camera trap images from Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C.

As growth makes neighborhoods more crowded for humans, it’s also concentrating carnivores like bobcats and coyotes into the remaining green spaces, leading them to interact with each other more frequently than they do in wild areas, according to research in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

The citizen science study looks at how carnivores interact with each other when they’re sharing space in small suburban forest patches. With the help of 557 volunteers and 1,260 remote cameras set up in suburban, exurban, rural and wild areas, the researchers documented 6,413 carnivores among nearly 43,000 images of wildlife. Carnivore species included bobcats and coyotes along with smaller gray and red foxes.

“We found a lot of animal activity in the suburbs, but it was really concentrated in the remaining green space. We think carnivores are trying to avoid people, so they are moving through the strips of remaining forest, where they are more likely to interact with each other,” says lead author Arielle Parsons, researcher with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University.

“What we discovered was that preserving green space in our cities is important not only for humans but also for wildlife species. Green space provides cover, it provides food and it’s a good way for carnivores to navigate without being in any danger from people.”

In general, the smaller carnivores steer clear of the larger ones. Some have theorized that smaller carnivores might stay closer to people, using them as “human shields” from larger predators. But that wasn’t borne out by the study.

“We found, on the contrary, that gray foxes and coyotes especially — our smallest species and our largest species — actually tended to use the same sites,” Parsons says. “In other words, they didn’t avoid each other, which was pretty surprising.”

For those who are wary about having carnivores in their midst, Parsons says it’s actually a good thing, given the key role they play in the ecosystem.

“Our study is showing that carnivores are trying to stay away from people by using forested areas,” Parsons says. “If we give them the opportunity to do that through preservation of green space and green space corridors through our urban areas, carnivores are going to continue to live nearby, which is actually a good thing for the ecology of our cities.”

“Just like roadways and sidewalks focus human movement and increase the potential for interaction, we find the high use of strips of remaining green space by carnivores increases their level of interaction,” says study co-author Roland Kays, a zoologist with NC State and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. “This shows how urban planning can affect the ecology of animals that share cities with people.”

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Domesticated foxes in Bronze Age Spain


This video says about itself:

We met the world’s first domesticated foxes

This week, we meet the very cute and very bizarre result of an almost 60-year-long experiment: they’re foxes that have been specially bred for their dog-like friendliness toward people. We do a little behavior research of our own, and discover what scientists continue to learn from the world’s most famous experiment in domestication. The fox experiment continues under the supervision of Lyudmila Trut at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics. Her book “How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog)”, co-authored by Lee Alan Dugatkin, details the history and science behind the experiment.

But … are foxes of this video really the first?

From FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology:

Foxes were domesticated by humans in the Bronze Age

February 21, 2019

In the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, between the third and second millennium BC, a widespread funeral practice consisted in burying humans with animals. Scientists have discovered that both foxes and dogs were domesticated, as their diet was similar to that of their owners.

The discovery of four foxes and a large number of dogs at the Can Roqueta (Barcelona) and Minferri (Lleida) sites stands out among the many examples of tombs in different parts of the north-eastern peninsula. These burials reveal a generalized funeral practice that proliferated in the Early to Middle Bronze Age: that of burying humans together with domestic animals.

What is most striking about these sites is the way of burying the dead in large silos, along with their dogs and a few foxes. “We discovered that in some cases the dogs received a special kind of food. We believe this is linked to their function as working dogs. Besides, one of the foxes shows signs of having already been a domestic animal in those times,” Aurora Grandal-d’Anglade, co-author of a study on the relationship between humans and dogs through their diet published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, has said to to Sinc.

By means of studying stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in bone collagen, as well as archaeological, archaeobiological and anthropological studies, researchers have been able to compare the diets of buried animals with their owners´ diet. A total of 37 dogs, 19 domestic ungulates and 64 humans were analyzed. The results indicate that the dogs’ diet was similar to that of humans.

The isotopic study of the Minferri foxes shows a varied diet: in some cases it looks similar to that of the dogs at that site, and in another it looks more like that of a wild animal or one that had little contact with humans.

“The case of the Can Roqueta fox is very special, because it is an old animal, with a broken leg. The fracture is still in its healing process, and shows signs of having been immobilized (cured) by humans. The feeding of this animal is very unusual, as it is more akin to a puppy dog’s. We interpret it as a domestic animal that lived for a long time with humans,” explains Grandal.

Large dogs used for transporting loads

The study points out that, in some particular cases in Can Roqueta, there was a specific cereal-rich food preparation for larger dogs probably used for carrying loads, and for at least one of the foxes.

“These specimens also show signs of disorders in the spinal column linked to the transport of heavy objects. Humans were probably looking for a high-carbohydrate diet because the animals developed a more active job, which required immediate calorie expenditure. It may seem strange that dogs were basically fed with cereals, but this was already recommended by the first-century Hispano-Roman agronomist Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, in his work De re rustica“, says Silvia Albizuri Canadell, co-author of the work and archaeozoologist at the University of Barcelona.

Other animals, such as cows, sheep or goats are noted for an herbivorous diet. Their function was probably to provide milk, meat or wool rather than serve as a work force. “The horse was not yet widespread in those societies, no traces of it can be found until later times,” adds the scientist.

In general, humans and dogs show somewhat higher isotopic signals than ungulates, which indicates a certain (not very high) consumption of animal protein, “not necessarily much meat; they could be, for example, derived from milk,” explains Grandal. Archaeological objects included sieves that served as ‘cheese making devices’.

Moreover, men seem to have included more meat than women in their diet. As for dogs, their diet may have been mainly from leftovers of what humans ate, mostly more similar to that of women and children. “That’s why we thought they were more linked to these domestic environments,” says the researcher. There are many ethnographic parallels that indicate this relationship between women and dogs.

Feeding and treatment of foxes and dogs

The fundamental role of dogs during the Bronze Age, when livestock, along with agriculture, constituted the basis of the economy, was that of the surveillance and guidance of herds. They were also responsible for taking care of human settlements, given the risk posed by the frequent presence of dangerous animals such as wolves or bears.

“The characteristics of dogs include their great intelligence, easy trainability and, undoubtedly, their defensive behaviour. As if that were not enough, this animal was used until the nineteenth century AD in North America, Canada and Europe for light transport on its back and for dragging carts and sleds. It also functioned as a pack animal on the Peninsula during the Bronze Age,” Albizuri Canadell claims.

Some archaeological specimens from North America show bone disorders that stem from the pulling of ‘travois’. There are also accounts by the first colonizers of the use of dogs in these tasks by Indian populations until the nineteenth century AD, although they had not been identified in Europe until a few years ago.

“It was the Can Roqueta specimens under study that triggered the alarm about the use of this animal for light loads since antiquity, and they’re an exceptional case in Europe,” says Albizuri Canadell.

Similar pathologies have also been recently identified in the vertebrae of Siberian Palaeolithic dogs, leading one to think that one of the first tasks since their early domestication was the pulling of sleds and travois, in addition to hunting.

Its role as a transport animal in the first migrations and human movements through glacial Europe could have been fundamental and much more important than believed until recently.

The reason for animal offerings

Exceptional findings, such as those of tomb #88 and #405 of the Minferri site (Lleida), show that during the Bronze Age there were already well-differentiated funeral treatments in human communities.

“In the two structures mentioned above, the remains of three individuals were found together with animal offerings. In tomb #88 there was the body of an old man with the remains of a whole cow and the legs of up to seven goats. Theremains of a young woman with the offering of a whole goat, two foxes and a bovine horn were also found,” states Ariadna Nieto Espinet, an archaeologist from the University of Lleida and also the co-author of the study.

Structure #405 uncovered the body of an individual, possibly a woman, accompanied by the whole bodies of two bovines and two dogs. “We still don’t know why only a few people would have had the right or privilege to be buried with this type of offering, unlike what happens with the vast majority of burials,” the expert points out.

In Can Roqueta, clear differences have also been observed in the deposits of domestic animals within the tombs of adults, both men and women, which are even reflected in children’s tombs. From this we can infer the existence of an inheritance of social status from birth.

“It is tempting to think that if we understand domestic animals as a very important part of the agro-pastoral agro-shepherding economy of the Bronze Age and of the belongings of some people in life, these could be an indicator of the wealth of the deceased individual or of his clan or family,” argues Nieto Espinet.

“It seems that species such as bovines and dogs, two of the most recurring animals in funeral offerings, are those that might have played a fundamental role in the economy and work as well as in the symbolic world, becoming elements of ostentation, prestige and protection,” she concludes.

Red fox in Quebec, Canada winter


This December 2018 video says about itself:

Red fox showing snow-dive hunting technique in the wild

The footage shows a red fox hunting in the snow in the most southern part of the province of Quebec in Canada. … In a ”spur of the moment” display of opportunistic hunting, the fox catches a prey at mark 2:53.

Cat scares red fox, video


This 14 February 2019 video shows a garden near Katwijk in the Netherlands at night.

Siebe Wiersma, owner of the garden, put a camera trap there, as he wondered why bird feed he put there disappeared at night.

This video shows three red foxes. One of them is scared away by a (probably feral) cat.

British poaching of fox cubs


This August 2018 video from Britain says about itself:

What is cub hunting?

Cub hunting is when fox cubs are hunted to train young hounds to hunt. In the Midlands cub hunting usually begins towards the end of August and lasts up until the 1st November when the main hunting season begins.

During this 2 month period up to 10,000 foxes can be killed. Fox hunters usually wear ratcatcher (tweed) rather than traditional red coats.

Cub hunting usually takes place very early in the morning or late in the evening due to the scenting conditions being better as it is usually still too warm during the day.

Unlike traditional hunting, cub hunting is very static. The hunt members will surround a small wood or crop field where they know a family of foxes live. Once surrounded they hit their boots or saddles with their riding crops to scare any foxes trying to escape back into the wood.

The hunts terrier-men will also block any badger setts and fox earths to prevent them running to ground.

During this period hunts will be out hunting more regularly than during the main hunting season 3-4 days a week. Some of the bigger hunts can be out 6 days a week.

You can report any information you have about cub hunting and any of our local hunts to us confidentially here.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain:

Friday, December 21, 2018

Over 70 ‘cub hunts’ reported this year despite 14-year ban

MORE than 70 different “cub hunts” have been reported this year, an animal welfare charity said today.

Cub hunting involves hunters surrounding a small copse and shouting and slapping saddles to scare fox cubs from escaping the woodland, which the huntsman enters with a pack of hounds. Any fox cubs detected by the hounds will be ripped to pieces.

The so-called “sport” has been banned for 14 years.

League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) head of campaigns Nick Weston said: “The only way they can do this is to give their young hounds the taste of fox blood – they do this by cub hunting. The brutal reality of this activity is clear in its name – they hunt and kill baby foxes.

“Hunts do this every year up and down the country, because if they didn’t, the hounds wouldn’t naturally chase and kill foxes.

“The existence of cub hunting proves that ‘trail hunting’ is a sham – these hounds aren’t trained to follow a trail, they are trained to kill.”

Mr Weston said it was time that the Hunting Act is strengthened to introduce prison sentences to deter people from organising and taking part in “cruel sports.”

The Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt was witnessed cub hunting by LACS investigators who filmed a fox bolting from woodland and being chased by the hunt’s hounds.

Other groups recorded cub hunting were Belvoir Hunt, Surrey Union Hunt and the Duke of Beaufort Foxhounds.

Two representatives of the Hunt have been interviewed by Derbyshire Police in relation to allegations of illegal hunting.