Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oklahoma
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Oklahoma Project

Assessment of Prairie Gray Fox Population Distribution, Dynamics, and Genetics in Oklahoma

July 2023 - June 2027


Participating Agencies

  • Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

The prairie gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus ocythous) was petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act due to concerns over perceived declines in abundance and distribution, and the federal status review has requested information on (1) habitat use and distribution, (2) population trends, (3) genetics, and (4) the impacts of coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus). To aid managers, inform the status review, and decrease the likelihood of the prairie gray fox being listed, we will combine camera trapping and two methods of genetic sampling (i.e., trapper-harvested and fecal DNA samples) to conduct the most comprehensive study to date on the status and ecology of the prairie gray fox. Camera trapping within the primary distribution of prairie gray foxes in Oklahoma will be analyzed with multi-season and multi-species occupancy models to evaluate gray fox distribution and relative abundance, population trend, factors influencing gray fox space use, and the influence of intraguild predators. Genetic sampling will be used to evaluate genetic structure, genetic diversity and sex ratios, and effective population size (Ne) of prairie gray foxes in Oklahoma.