By Peter Jenkins
While some people are still trying to ascertain what the fox is saying, Fox Finders of Baton Rouge, a new Facebook group, is simply trying to find out where they live. The page, which was started last week by an LSU student, is part of a student research project. Specifically, the goal of the project is to use social media to understand the ecosystem and where urban foxes fit into that puzzle around LSU.
Ahsennur Soysal, 24, an LSU senior in the Coastal and Environmental Science Department, has teamed up with Dr. Linda Hooper-Bui and others for this project, which is Soysal’s senior thesis project. According to Soysal, Dr. Hooper-Bui suggested the research topic, and they are “trying to use social media to map the fox presence within Baton Rouge.” They are doing this using Facebook and Instagram and are asking people to submit pictures of foxes they see around Baton Rouge. Soysal says “it’s a great way to get the public involved in research.
Now, some people do see foxes as a threat. They are known for causing some problems, especially for people who happen to have chickens in their backyard. However, just like anything else, we should take precautions. At the same time, Soysal and her fellow researchers want the people of Baton Rouge to know that foxes are not a serious threat. The research in part hopes to shed light on the habits and locations of foxes to better understand when and where they come out in order to give the people of Baton Rouge a better understanding of this animal and its habits. According to the team, cats and small dogs aren’t typical prey of foxes, and Dr. Hooper-Bui believes that “they are very beneficial, they are probably taking care of Baton Rouge’s rat population and other varied insects, cockroaches, and other things people don’t want around.” Soysal then went on to discuss a recent project that was conducted in Wisconsin, which showed that foxes mainly ate berries and rodents.
The research team says they have received positive reactions from the public so far. A number of pictures have already been posted to the Facebook page, and in the near future they plan to launch a larger media strategy to promote their work; they will even post flyers around town to help generate even more responses from the public.
Charles D’Agostino, 66, of Baton Rouge, says, “Over the last 10 years we have had foxes denning and birthing kitts in our yard in University Acres.” He talked about their habits and interactions with humans and had this to say, “The kitts stay close to the den until they are old enough to be on their own. They have been fun to watch and they are not aggressive. They go into hiding when humans or my dog gets too close, but they are not very scared of humans. They do avoid contact, but we often observe them from a distance and they will stay and watch us until you get too close. They are very fast and they are really small.” He also mentioned that his kids love seeing them around.
The research team wants Baton Rouge residents to get involved with this project, so if you would like to contribute to this research by taking pictures and posting them to social media, there are two ways to do that. You can either post them to the Facebook page, Fox Finders of Baton Rouge, or you can post them to Instagram and tag the post with, #findfoxlsu. When this research is complete, the research team hopes to have a better understanding of these creatures and how they affect the ecosystem, the rest of us just want to know what does the fox say?