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

Sasmal, I., J. A. Jenks, T. W. Grovenburg, S. Datta, G. M. Schroeder, R. W. Klaver, and K. M. Honness. 2011. Habitat selection by female swift fox (Vulpes velox) during the pup-rearing season. The Prairie Naturalist 43:29-37.


The swift fox (Vulpes velox) was historically distributed in western South Dakota including the region surrounding Badlands National Park (BNP). The species declined during the mid-1800s, largely due to habitat loss and poisoning targeted at wolves (Canis lupis) and coyotes (C. latrans). Only a small population of swift foxes near Ardmore, South Dakota persisted. In 2003, an introduction program was initiated at BNP with swift foxes translocated from Colorado and Wyoming. We report on habitat use by female swift foxes during the pup-rearing season (May–July) in 2009. Analyses of location data from 13 radiomarked female foxes indicated disproportional use (P < 0.001) of some habitats relative to their availability within swift fox home ranges. Swift foxes used grassland (ŵ = 1.01), sparse vegetation (ŵ = 1.43) and prairie dog towns (ŵ = 1.18) in proportion to their availability, whereas they were less likely to use woodland (ŵ = 0.00), shrubland (ŵ = 0.14), pasture/agricultural-land (ŵ = 0.25) and development (ŵ = 0.16) relative to availability. Swift foxes typically are located in habitats that provide greater visibility, such as shortgrass prairie and areas with sparse vegetation; which allow detection of approaching coyotes (e.g., primary predator of swift foxes).