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Foxes are timid yet resourceful animals that are integrated into many urban environments. Because they are elusive, collecting information about the number of urban foxes, their diet and spatial distribution, their interactions with the ecological community in their urban habitat, as well as residents’ response to them, is difficult. Involving stakeholders to participate in the data collection on wildlife via citizen science on social media is one way to overcome this complication, while simultaneously engaging residents in the ecology happening around them. Therefore, we used social media as the platform to engage the public to document and map the foxes in Baton Rouge, LA. Local residents were asked to post sightings and/or photographs of foxes they observed, with the location, onto our Facebook Page at Fox Finders of Baton Rouge, on Twitter at @FoxFindersBR, or on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #findfoxlsu. This information was added onto an ArcGIS story map. Types of public responses and engagement over time were also measured. The authors clarified people’s misconceptions about foxes when questions were asked on our Facebook Page. On-site observations and trail cameras were also used in common locations to monitor the urban foxes.
While we received only one fox sighting via Instagram and Twitter each, our Facebook Page generated 1132 “likes” and an average of 14% Page Engagement Rate during the first eight months. Along with Baton Rouge, people from 384 different cities and 16 countries have engaged with the page. In addition, 180 sightings of about 140 different foxes—including 61 photographs and eight videos—were submitted, with eight of the sightings coming from areas surrounding the city—outside the study area. Seven common fox locations in the city were identified, all of which were adjacent to a source of water. Results showed that urban foxes have become habituated to the urban environment and may serve as an umbrella species. From the many positive and enthusiastic feedback we have received on our Facebook Page, our research model successfully promoted citizen science by easily connecting residents to science, enabling them to engage with our team and local residents directly to learn about the wildlife around them, efficiently documented and mapped many local urban foxes, and provided a preliminary count of foxes for benchmark data for future studies.