Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The swift fox (Vulpes velox) is a small carnivore which competes for food and space with a medium-sized carnivore, the coyote (Canis latrans). There is speculation that competition with, and/or predation by coyotes may be a significant causal factor in the current decline of the swift fox in North America. Coyotes appear to be a major predator of both adult and juvenile swift foxes on the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado, and thus could significantly impact the successful colonization or reestablishment of a swift fox population. The goal of this study (currently in progress) is to determine the degree of resource overlap (spatial, temporal, and dietary) between coyotes and swift foxes on the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. We are examining the amount of overlap between coyote and swift fox home ranges, measuring where swift fox mortality by coyotes is occurring in relation to coyote home ranges, documenting whether successful dispersal of swift foxes occurs along the periphery of coyote territories as opposed to through core areas, determining whether temporal avoidance occurs in the canids' activity patterns, and measuring the degree of resource overlap in their diets.
Thus, the study will clarify the biological, behavioral, and management implications of coyote and swift fox resource overlap on the study site and how they relate to future programs on the study sited and in other prairie states, as well as programs for recovery of kit fox in the southwestern United States.