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Transcript of SWIFT FOX NEWSSWIFT FOX NEWS · PDF file The swift fox (Vulpes velox) is a small grassland...


    Newsletter No. 11 of the Swift Fox Conservation Team July 2016

    Comments from the Team Leaders This is the 11th newsletter of the Swift Fox Conservation Team (SFCT) since the group’s for- mation in 1994. Representatives of state wildlife agencies within the historic range of the swift fox and members of federal and private wildlife and land management agencies make up the SFCT. When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that the swift fox was warranted for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act, state and other agencies created the SFCT to determine highest conservation priorities for the species. The SFCT drafted a Conservation Assessment and Conser- vation Strategy (CACS) that was published in 1997. Member states and agencies have worked cooperatively on swift fox monitoring, management, and research that provided new information to support the removal of the species from the federal candidate list in 2001. Even though the USFWS is no longer considering the species for federal protection, the Team’s primary mission of ensuring the long-term conservation of swift fox still remains. Most recently, work has been initiated to assess population distribution in the Northern Great Plains and to identify barriers that may be limiting that distribution. Finding those barriers and de- veloping strategies to link populations will work towards the SFCT objective of maintaining swift fox distribution within at least half of the usable habitat available to swift foxes. The Swift Fox Conservation Team's website is hosted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/SwiftFoxConservationTeam.aspx. The site includes annual reports, newsletters, and other items of interest submitted by members and partners of the SFCT. We hope you find this newsletter useful and appreciate your support. Patrick Isakson (Chair) Marty Stratman (Co-Chair) ND Game and Fish Department CO Parks and Wildlife Photo by Lu Carbyn


  • Agency Updates

    One of the objectives of the SFCT is to periodi-

    cally evaluate the status of swift fox populations.

    Recent mapping efforts have considered pres-

    ence or absence at the county level. Where suf-

    ficient populations exist, a regulated harvest sea-

    son can be a cheap way to broadly evaluate swift

    fox distribution at this scale. Since 1994, any

    swift fox harvested in Kansas must be pelt

    tagged, allowing the Kansas Department of

    Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to close-

    ly monitor the harvest. This allows for quality

    data to be collected on the number of swift fox

    harvested (an average of 79 since 1994) as well

    as the details of harvest including county, date,

    primary target species, method of harvest, and

    take per furharvester. In the last 4 years, swift

    foxes have been documented throughout most of

    their range in Kansas by harvest alone (Figure

    1). Though not as rigorous as a population sur-

    vey, efforts to monitor unsuccessful harvest ac-

    tivities through standard furharvesting surveys

    improve the value of this data. Recent pelt tag-

    ging reports by can be found on the KDWPT

    website at this link: http://ksoutdoors.com/



    Contact: Matt Peek, KDWPT

    SFCT Newsletter No. 11 Page 2

    Figure 1. Kansas counties from which swift foxes have been harvested since 2012, and the most recent year of


    Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

    Regulated harvest proves valuable to monitoring swift fox in Kansas

  • SFCT Newsletter No. 11 Page 3

    Although the Wyoming Game and Fish Depart-

    ment is between official surveys for swift fox in

    the state, we still continue to receive reports of

    swift fox from wildlife managers and the general

    public alike. These reports are critical to our un-

    derstanding of the species in the state and provide

    information that is used to update range maps and

    document reproductive populations. Given the

    recent increase in observations of individuals

    throughout the western half of the state, swift fox

    may be expanding into previously unoccupied are-

    as of Wyoming.

    A swift fox rests outside of its den south of Wamsutter,

    Wyoming. This individual was first reported by oil and

    gas workers in the area, and the Wyoming Game and

    Fish Department Game Warden in the area was able to

    follow up and get a few photos.

    Photo courtesy of Kim Olson, WGFD

    Contact: Nichole Bjornlie, WY Game and Fish Department

    This family of swift fox was documented by a Wyoming

    Game and Fish Department Wildlife Biologist north-

    west of Worland, Wyoming. These individuals repre-

    sent only the second documentation of swift fox in the

    Bighorn Basin. Reports of reproduction in swift fox are

    extremely useful, especially for individuals on the pe-

    riphery of the species range.

    Photo courtesy of Bart Kroger, WGFD

    A swift fox checks out its den outside of Lander, Wyo-

    ming. First observed by a Tribal Game Warden with the

    Wind River Indian Reservation, he later went back to

    set up a remote camera and was able to get a photo of

    this individual.

    Photo courtesy of Ben Synder, Wind River Fish and


    Agency Updates

    Swift Fox Update – Wyoming

  • Research and Monitoring Updates

    Swift foxes are currently believed to be extirpat-

    ed from North Dakota and are listed as state

    threatened in South Dakota. The current distribu-

    tion of swift foxes in the Northern Plains is large-

    ly unknown due to a lack of systematic distribu-

    tion studies. Knowledge of the current distribu-

    tion of swift foxes is necessary to assess the pop-

    ulation status of the species and connectivity be-

    tween existing populations. This study will eval-

    uate the status of swift fox populations in north-

    western South Dakota and southwestern North

    Dakota, identify existing habitats suitable to swift

    fox, and assess disease risk and genetic diversity

    of residents. We will conduct trail camera sur-

    veys to determine distribution of swift fox, col-

    lect samples from live-trapped foxes to assess

    disease risk and genetic diversity, and track radio

    -collared foxes to locate den sites to assess habi-

    tat selection. We will develop a distribution mod-

    el of the current fox population and a den-site/

    habitat selection model in the study area. We will

    identify potential reintroduction sites. Disease

    and genetic diversity analyses will be used to de-

    termine limiting factors in swift fox survival and

    population connectivity, for use in future conser-

    vation planning. Finally, we will combine our

    findings with those of researchers throughout the

    Northern Great Plains to generate region-wide

    results, which will ultimately advance conserva-

    tion of the species.

    Emily Mitchell1, Donelle Schwalm2, Kristy Bly3,

    Jonathan Jenks1, Eileen Dowd Stukel4, Stephanie

    Tucker5, Patrick Isakson5, and Troy Grovenburg1

    1 Department of Natural Resource Management,

    South Dakota State University, Brookings, South

    Dakota 2 Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State

    University, Corvallis, Oregon 3World Wildlife Fund, Columbia Falls, Montana 4 South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, Pierre,

    South Dakota 5 North Dakota Game and Fish, Bismarck, North


    SFCT Newsletter No. 11 Page 4

    Distribution, Disease, and Conservation Planning for Swift Fox in the Northern Great Plains

    drawing by Adam Oswald, SDGFP

  • SFCT Newsletter No. 11 Page 5

    Jessica L. Alexander1 Sarah K. Olimb1, Kristy L.S. Bly1, and Marco Restani2

    1Northern Great Plains Program, World Wildlife Fund, 13 S. Willson Ave, Suite 1, Bozeman, MT 59715 2Department of Biological Sciences, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN 56301

    The swift fox (Vulpes velox) is a small grassland canid native to the North American Great Plains. A rein- troduced swift fox population in Canada and northern Montana appears to be isolated from those exist- ing in the central and southern Great Plains. We developed a swift fox habitat suitability model for

    southeastern Montana, the region between the two populations. The resulting model indicated that 67.9% of the study area consisted of high- ly suitable habitat. We conducted a least-cost path analysis to evaluate the connectivity of swift fox habitat in the study area to existing swift fox populations in the region. We identi- fied a potential dispersal corridor through southeastern Montana that could facilitate movement between swift fox populations in northern Montana and northern Wyoming and identified four prairie dog complexes in Rose- bud, Custer, and Powder River Counties, Mon- tana, that could serve as potential swift fox reintroduction sites. Each site was comprised of several prairie dog colonies in close p