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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Effects of artificial escape dens on swift fox populations in northwest Texas

Published source details

McGee B.K., Ballard W.B., Nicholson K.L., Cypher B.L., Lemons II P.R. & Kamler J.F. (2006) Effects of artificial escape dens on swift fox populations in northwest Texas. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 34, 821-827


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Provide artificial refuges/breeding sites Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A study in 2002–2004 in a grassland site in Texas, USA (McGee et al. 2006) found that artificial escape dens increased swift fox Vulpes velox survival rates. Average annual survival in plots with artificial escape dens (81%) was higher than in areas without such dens (52%). Six of 11 confirmed mortalities were due to predation by coyotes Canis latrans, three were of unknown causes, one died of natural causes and one was predated by a raptor. All mortalities were outside artificial den plots. Thirty-six artificial escape dens were installed 322 m apart in each of three 2.6-km2 plots within a 100-km2 study area. Two plots had established swift fox populations while the third did not. Each den was a covered, 4-m long, 20-cm diameter corrugated-plastic pipe with open ends. Fifty-five foxes were radio-collared and tracked, 2–4 times/week, for up to two years, between January 2002 and August 2004. Survival was estimated from 41 adult foxes (28 in artificial burrow plots, 13 in the study area but outside artificial burrow plots).

(Summarised by Kat Vayda and Kayla Seltzer )