The swift fox (Vulpes velox) is a small grassland canid native to the North American Great Plains. A reintroduced swift fox population in Canada and northern Montana appears to be isolated from those existing in the central and southern Great Plains. We developed a swift fox habitat suitability model for southeastern Montana, the region between the 2 populations. The resulting model indicated that 67.9% of the study area consisted of highly suitable habitat. We conducted a least-cost path analysis to evaluate the connectivity of swift fox habitat in the study area to existing swift fox populations in the region. We identified a potential dispersal corridor through southeastern Montana that could facilitate movement between swift fox populations in northern Montana and northern Wyoming and identified 4 prairie dog complexes in Rosebud, Custer, and Powder River Counties, Montana, that could serve as potential swift fox reintroduction sites. Each site comprised several prairie dog colonies in close proximity and encompassed ≥ 95 km2. We evaluated the effect that swift fox populations established in each potential reintroduction site could have on population connectivity. Our results as well as future surveys could inform swift fox management and reintroduction programs in Montana.
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Vol. 97 • No. 3