Home range size and resource use by swift foxes in northeastern Montana

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Home range size and resource use by swift foxes in northeastern Montana


Swift foxes (Vulpes velox) are endemic to the Great Plains of North America, but were extirpated from the northern portion of their range by the mid-1900s. Despite several reintroductions to the Northern Great Plains, there remains a ~350 km range gap between the swift fox population along the Montana and Canada border and that in northeastern Wyoming and northwestern South Dakota. A better understanding of what resources swift foxes use along the Montana and Canada border region will assist managers to facilitate connectivity among populations. From 2016 to 2018, we estimated the home range size and evaluated resource use within the home ranges of 22 swift foxes equipped with Global Positioning System tracking collars in northeastern Montana. Swift fox home ranges in our study were some of the largest ever recorded, averaging (± SE) 42.0 km2 ± 4.7. Our results indicate that both environmental and anthropogenic factors influenced resource use. At the population level, resource use increased by 3.3% for every 5.0% increase in percent grasslands. Relative probability of use decreased by 7.9% and 7.4% for every kilometer away from unpaved roads and gas well sites, respectively, and decreased by 3.0% and 11.3% for every one-unit increase in topographic roughness and every 0.05 increase in normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), respectively. Our study suggests that, to reestablish connectivity among swift fox populations in Montana, managers should aim to maintain large corridors of contiguous grasslands at a landscape scale, a process that likely will require having to work with multiple property owners.

Bibliographic Citation

Butler, A.R., Bly, K.L., Harris, H., Inman, R.M., Moehrenschlager, A., Schwalm, D., and D.S. Jachowski. 2020. Home range size and resource use by swift foxes in northeastern Montana. Journal of Mammalogy 101:684-696.


Butler, Andrew R
Bly Kristy L S
Harris, Heather
Inman, Robert M
Moehrenschlager, Axel
Schwalm, Donelle


Swift fox
Vulpes velox
Resource utilization function
Conservation translocation


13 pages







Is Part Of

Journal of Mammalogy


This article is available under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC license and permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Butler, Andrew R et al., “Home range size and resource use by swift foxes in northeastern Montana,” CPW Digital Collections, accessed June 22, 2024, https://cpw.cvlcollections.org/items/show/408.