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Swift Fox Symposium

The Status of Swift Fox in North Central Montana


Amy L. Zimmerman1, Lynn Irby1, and Brian Giddings2. 1Department of Biology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717. 2Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Helena, MT 59620.

Canadian wildlife agencies began a swift fox (Vulpes velox) reintroduction effort in 1983. Swift fox were released annually in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Over the next decade, this reintroduction led to the possibility of individuals dispersing into Montana and creating a resident population. In 1996, Montana State University began a graduate study on swift fox in northern Blaine County, Montana. The first objective was to confirm increasing numbers of sightings of swift fox in this area. Systematic block trapping by township was used to survey for swift fox in the fall of 1996. Any foxes found were radio collared. Nine foxes were captured and collared in the fall of 1996. Four mortalities occurred during the winter of 1996-1997. One fox dispersed into Canada. In the spring of 1997, the remaining radio collared foxes were used to locate possible natal den sites. Four foxes that remained in Montana paired and produced eight pups. Additional trapping in northern Blaine County in 1997 yielded two adult swift fox with a litter of seven pups. Trapping also occurred in Phillips and Valley counties to establish the presence of swift fox. Two adults and two juveniles were captured in Phillips County. An adult male was captured in Valley County. A study of home range size and food habits is also incorporated into the study.


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