The Morris Animal Foundation will fund studies to advance the health of wildlife species around the world, including one at California State University, Stanislaus to help kit foxes survive.
The 11 Morris grants, totaling $775,866, were selected from among 168 applications and will go toward a diverse set of animal health challenges from Brazil to the Netherlands to Mongolia.
Stanislaus State received a two-year, $104,096 grant to develop an effective disease management strategy for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, whose dwindling numbers are being further reduced by a fatal form of mange caused by burrowing mites.
The project will be led by Brian Cypher, associate director and research ecologist at the Endangered Species Recovery Program, a research program established 25 years ago at Stan State. Cypher and staff will collaborate with researchers from UC Davis and the California Department of Wildlife.
“The goal of the project will be to assess the relationship between fox density and mange transmission, and then to use this information to develop potential strategies for halting the epidemic, which to date has resulted in the deaths of many kit foxes,” Cypher said.
The first cases of sarcoptic mange in kit foxes were discovered in Bakersfield in 2013.
The San Joaquin kit fox is about the size of a housecat, with big ears and a long bushy tail. Furry toes protect its feet from the hot ground of San Joaquin Valley summers. Once plentiful in this region, San Joaquin kit foxes now number fewer than 5,000, making them among the most endangered animals in California.