Habitat loss might be one of the primary reasons for the decline of the swift fox (Vulpes velox) in the western Great Plains of North America. From 1998 to 2001, we monitored 42 swift foxes in a landscape interspersed with native short-grass prairies, nonnative grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, irrigated agricultural fields, and dry-land agricultural fields. Survival estimates ranged from 0.52 to 0.66 for both adults and juveniles, and the primary causes of death were vehicle collisions (42% deaths) and coyote (Canis latrans) predation (33%). Annual home-range size was similar for males and females (10.8 and 10.5 km2, respectively). Within the study area, swift foxes selected only short-grass prairies and had lower-than-expected use or complete avoidance of all other habitat types. Our results indicate swift foxes are more specialized in habitat selection than other North American canids; thus, protection of native short-grass prairies might be necessary for their long-term existence.
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