Swift foxes (Vulpes velox) are shortgrass specialists and as a result are heavily dependent upon grassland disturbance regimes to maintain high-quality habitat. To better understand this relationship, we monitored the movement and spatial ecology of resident swift foxes before and after a 2005 prescribed burn in southeastern Colorado. We hypothesized that foxes would shift home ranges into and increase foraging activity within the prescribed burn area. Foxes did appear to alter their space-use patterns in response to the burn, although the response was constrained by territoriality. Foxes whose core-use areas overlapped the burn increased their use of the burn area for foraging and denning, but we did not observe shifts of individual home ranges to encompass more of the burned area. Foxes whose core-use areas did not overlap the burn did not alter their space use or change home range boundaries in response to the burn. Because we observed only positive or neutral responses to prescribed burning, we recommend this tool as an appropriate method to maintain high-quality swift fox habitat.
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Vol. 68 • No. 2