SAN FRANCISCO—The rare gray fox species has been spotted in the Presidio of San Francisco. Wildlife ecologists are saying that the species has allegedly been reproducing for the first time in over a decade.

Footage from a surveillance video earlier this month shows three gray foxes in a vacant building, which they entered through the building’s broken windows, says Jonathan Young, one of Presidio Trust’s wildlife ecologists.

Young anticipates that the fox population is growing, as the species has not been spotted for several years, prior to this year. The first gray fox sighting in the Presidio was in February 2003, during the time where the gray fox population was rapidly declining.

Since 2003, a pair of gray foxes were also spotted earlier in February 2015, an occurrence which Young studied closely in an attempt to monitor their behavior and determine how they survived the influx of coyotes. 

Young stated that “they used to be apparently really common in the Presidio and probably in Golden Gate Park and McLaren Park, but as soon as coyotes returned in recent years, the coyotes established their role as top carnivores and there was a decline.” 

The gray fox has been known to feed on mice, rats, and rabbits, and was once the most common species of fox on the West Coast, and throughout Northern, as well as Central America.

Coyotes are known to prey on foxes, and are said to have been the primary reason why the gray fox population vanished over the last decade. With the gray fox population on the rise, it is difficult for wildlife ecologists to determine whether they will coexist. 

Young mentioned that the gray fox species possess several advantages that aid in survival, the primary benefit being their ability to climb trees.

Photo of gray foxes provided by Greg Kerekez
Photo of gray foxes provided by Greg Kerekez