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Swift Fox Symposium

A Trapping and Handling Protocol to Limit Stress and Injury to Swift Foxes

Axel Moehrenschlager, David Macdonald, and Cynthia Moehrenschlager. Wildlife Conservation Unit, Department of Zoology, Oxford University, South Park Road, Oxford 0X1 3P2, England.

The progress of the Canadian swift fox, Vulpes velox, recovery program can only be seriously evaluated by studying the foxes, and this inevitably involves intervention. All interventions risk disturbing the subject's behavior, possibly thereby the results and, at an extreme, disadvantaging the subject. It should therefore be standard practice to minimize the consequences of intervention, and it might be argued that the acceptable minimum disadvantage would be affected by endangered species, as in the case of the Canadian swift fox. In our study of the behavioral ecology and population recovery of reintroduced swift foxes of the Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana borders between 1995-1998, we deemed that capture, handling, and radio-collaring were indispensable procedures. A study of the latter technique, briefly reviewed here, is published elsewhere and indicated that radio-collaring was an acceptable invention. Now we compare not only the efficacy, but also evaluations of stress and injury, associated with two live-trapping protocols developed during our study. Based on the capture of 119 individual foxes, analyzed by age, sex, and season, we suggest a protocol intended to minimize stress and injury in future studies.

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