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Montana Field Guides

Red Fox - Vulpes vulpes

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3


 

External Links





 
General Description
Appearance of small dog. Long, bushy tail, pointed ears, slender muzzle, slanted eyes. White tip on the tail. Rufous coloration, various coat colorations or color phases. Total length: 39 to 43 inches. Weight: 10 to 15 pounds.

Diagnostic Characteristics
There is no white tip on the tail of the Coyote, Swift Fox, Marten or Fisher.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 462

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Can survive in a wide range of habitats. Often associated with agricultural areas. Prefers mixture of forest and open country near water. Mostly nocturnal. Hunts by smell. Uses dens for shelter during severe weather and when pups are being reared. Usually uses dens made by other animals. Seldom found far from permanent water. Thrive in bushy successional area where small mammals are most abundant. Occupies diverse habitats. In forest situations uses edge (Jones et al. 1983).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Opportunistic predator that sometimes eats carrion. Preys on small mammals, birds, eggs, game birds. Varies according to availability in western MT. During spring (in decreasing order of importance): Microtus spp., birds, Muskrats, rabbits, ground squirrels, deer carrion. In winter microtus spp., birds, Northern Pocket Gophers. Also uses vegetation.

Ecology
Burrow den-sites comprised of sub-dens (10 to 40 holes). Some dens in open and some in brush.

Reproductive Characteristics
Mates during winter; 51- to 53-day gestation; litter size averages four to eight. In western Montana breed from February 8 to March 8, mostly in February. Give birth late March to April. May exhibit communal denning.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • Abstracts from Montana Rare Animal Meeting. 1992. [November 5-6, 1992]. Lewistown, MT. 20 pp.
    • Alderton, D. 1994. Foxes, wolves and wild dogs of the world. Facts on File, Inc. New York. 192pp.
    • Bauer, Delane, 2002, 2002 Four Seasons Wildlife Study. Savage Mine Report, Richland County, Montana.
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    • Butts, Thomas W., Western Technology and Eng., Helena, MT., 1993, Continental Lime Indian Creek Mine, Townsend, MT. 1993 Life of Mine Wildlife Reconnaissance. June 1993. In Life-of-Mine Amendment. Continental Lime, Inc., Indian Creek Mine & Plant. Vol. 2. October 13, 1992.
    • Carlsen, Tom, and Rick Northrup, 1992, Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area Final Draft Management Plan. March 1992.
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    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1978, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-9, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1977 - June 30, 1978.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1980, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-11, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1979 - June 30, 1980.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1981, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-12, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1980 - June 30, 1981.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1982, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-13, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1981 - June 30, 1982.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1983, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-14, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1982 - June 30, 1983.
    • Decker Coal Co., 1981, Wildlife survey. July 7, 1981. In North Decker 5-Year Permit Application. Vol. III. Rule 26.4.304(12-14).
    • Doncaster, C. P., and D. W. MacDonald. 1991. Drifting territoriality in the red fox VULPES VULPES. J. Anim. Ecol. 60:423-439.
    • ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1975, Colstrip 10 x 20 Area wildlife and wildlife habitat annual monitoring report, 1975. Proj. 71-23-A. December 31, 1975.
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    • Elliott, Joe C. and Hydrometrics, Inc., Helena, MT., 1994, Supplement to wildlife baseline investigation life-of-mine expansion plan: Regal Mine, Barretts Minerals, Inc., Madison County, Montana. August 2000. In Life-of Mine Expansion Plan: Barretts Minerals, Inc., Regal Mine, Madison County, Montana. Vol. 2. App. C: Baseline Wildlife Reconnaissance. December 1999.
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    • http://mdt.mt.gov/research/docs/research_proj/animal_use/interim_report_nov02.pdf
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    • Humphris, Michael., 1990, Wildlife Monitoring Report. Spring Creek Coal Company 1990 Mining Annual Report. Appendix I. April 11, 1990.
    • Humphris, Michael., 1993, Wildlife Monitoring Report. Spring Creek Coal Company 1993 Mining Annual Report. Appendix I. April 11, 1993.
    • Humphris, Michael., 1994, Wildlife Monitoring Report. Spring Creek Coal Company 1994 Mining Annual Report. Appendix I. April 1994.
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    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Roundup Wetland, Roundup, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.031. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
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Citation for data on this website:
Red Fox — Vulpes vulpes.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on October 30, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AMAJA03010
 
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