The Swift Fox, a tiny, lesser known, but valuable part of the grassland and desert ecosystems of Wyoming, will be the subject of our January 12, 2023 program. Weighing only five pounds on verage, with a black tipped tail, the Swift Fox is the smallest fox species in North America and the smallest member of the canid family. Historically found across western North America, these foxes were thought to occupy the eastern part of Wyoming and can still be found there in small numbers. Like many predators, Swift Fox numbers in the U.S. and Canada saw a dramatic decline about the turn of the 20th century due to anti-predator campaigns and habitat changes. Efforts have been made in recent decades to preserve remaining Swift Fox populations, and their work seems to be paying off. Wildlife officials in Wyoming are beginning to see an increase in Swift Fox populations, with more frequent sightings across the state. In fact, they’ve been expanding their range into higher-elevation areas like Big Piney and Pinedale. Researchers and Wildlife officials are currently using various methods to get an estimate of Swift Fox numbers, as well as some genetics from scat, to get an idea of how many individuals seem to be showing up within a given area. Research ecologists are working to trap and reintroduce Swift Foxes from Wyoming to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana. Foxes were trapped in Natrona County this past summer. Heather O’ Brien, Nongame Mammal Biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department from Casper, will be our guest speaker.
To find out more about this fascinating Fox, come to the Murie Audubon free talk on January 12, 2023, at 7 p.m., at the Izaak Walton Clubhouse, at 4205 Fort Caspar Road. -Bruce Walgren *All Swift Fox photos by Art Van Rensselae