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Swift Fox Symposium

Population Ecology and Evaluation of Survey Methods for Swift Fox


Edward R. Schauster1, Eric M. Gese2, and Ann M. Kitchen1. 1Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322. 2 USDA National Wildlife Research Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322.

Swift fox (Vulpes velox) were once distributed across most of the shortgrass prairie regions of North America. The arrival of settlers and the concurrent loss of habitat, intense trapping, incidental poisoning (coyotes, Canis latrans, and wolves, C. lupus, were intended targets), and shooting brought about a general decline in swift fox numbers until the fox remained only in the southern part of its historic range. Possible causes for the continued decline of swift fox include loss of habitat to dry land agriculture, trapping for fur, and predation by coyotes on both juvenile and adult swift foxes. With increasing concern over the status and distribution of swift fox, a test and evaluation of appropriate survey techniques is paramount. This study attempts to address this need by evaluating several survey techniques, including: spot-light counts, scat deposition rates, scent-station surveys, track counts during winter, catch-per-unit-effort surveys and activity index. Overall project objectives, progress to date and future goals will be discussed.


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