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

Texas Project

TPW 52: Experimental Approaches to Improve Survival and Conservation of Swift Fox

January 2024 - December 2028


Participating Agencies

  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The swift fox has been a species of conservation concern throughout its range for over 30 years. In 2022, an interagency committee represented by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, and US Department of Agriculture NRCS drafted a Texas-level plan for conservation of the swift fox (Vulpes velox). The plan identified a list of research priorities to better understand how to increase the survival and population expansion of the species. We will attempt to address these research priorities in Dallam county, Texas, the only county in the state known to currently have a functional swift fox population. Our research will focus on four objectives; 1) evaluating the efficacy of different methods to increase swift fox survival, including a) livestock guardian dogs and b) artificial burrows,; 2) assess fox response to applied habitat management conducted via grazing and prescribed burning; 3) estimate the prevalence of disease (e.g., canine distemper, parvo virus) among foxes and attempt to determine disease influence on pup survival; and 4) assess the attitudes and knowledge of landowners, hunters, and recreationists regarding swift fox and conservation actions. The multidisciplinary nature of this study necessitates participation of researchers with different areas of expertise from different institutions, managers from state and federal agencies, and landowners in the study area.