Movement and survival parameters of translocated and resident swift foxes Vulpes velox

Authors

  • Axel Moehrenschlager,

    Corresponding author
    1. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
    2. Centre for Conservation Research, Calgary Zoological Society, PO Box 3036, Station B, Calgary, Alberta T2M 4R8, Canada
      All correspondence to: A. Moehrenschlager. Centre for Conservation Research, Calgary Zoological Society, PO Box 3036, Station B, Calgary, Alberta T2M 4R8, Canada. Tel. 403-232-7771; Fax: 403-237-7582; E-mail: axelm@calgaryzoo.ab.ca
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  • David W. Macdonald

    1. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
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All correspondence to: A. Moehrenschlager. Centre for Conservation Research, Calgary Zoological Society, PO Box 3036, Station B, Calgary, Alberta T2M 4R8, Canada. Tel. 403-232-7771; Fax: 403-237-7582; E-mail: axelm@calgaryzoo.ab.ca

Abstract

Conservation programmes increasingly involve the translocation of animals to reinforce failing populations or establish new ones. To help guide translocation programmes of swift foxes (Vulpes velox) or other imperilled species, we aimed to discern factors affecting translocation success among reintroduced swift foxes in Canada. Post-release movements characterized three stages. In the initial acclimation phase, foxes moved erratically and quickly distanced themselves from release sites. During the establishment phase, distances from the release site did not change significantly but daily movements were more wide-ranging than those of concurrently tracked, resident swift foxes. In the final settlement phase, movements of translocated foxes reflected those of resident individuals. Radio-telemetry showed that survival and reproductive success were highest for swift foxes with small dispersal distances, suggesting that measures should be taken to acclimatize animals to release sites. Since females had lower survival rates than males, translocations should also use a greater proportion of females to establish balanced sex ratios in the population. Translocated juveniles dispersed less far but survived and reproduced as well as translocated adults, suggesting that juveniles can be used to establish translocated foxes in small, protected areas, while minimizing demographic effects on source populations. The fact that survival rates and litter sizes of translocated foxes were similar to those of resident animals indicates that translocation can be an effective reintroduction tool for this endangered species, and possibly other foxes.

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