|Scientific Name:||Vulpes macrotis|
|Species Authority:||Merriam, 1888|
|Taxonomic Notes:||Reviewed by Egoscue (1979) and McGrew (1979). Revised by Waithman and Roest (1977) and Dragoo et al. (1990). Blair et al. (1968), Lechleitner (1969), Bueler (1973), and Dragoo et al. (1990) considered Vulpes velox and Vulpes macrotis as conspecific. Packard and Bowers (1970), Rohwer and Kilgore (1973), Thornton and Creel (1975) (who found hybrids between the two, but concluded they were of reduced viability), and Mercure et al. (1993) retained both as separate species. Mercure et al. (1993) argued that the genetic differences between macrotis and velox were similar to that of Vulpes and Alopex, and therefore argued that they should be recognized at the species level (followed here) (and see Wozencraft 2005).|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Least Concern ver 3.1|
|Assessor/s:||IUCN SCC Canid Specialist Group (North America Regional Section)|
|Reviewer/s:||Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)|
The Kit Fox inhabits the deserts and arid lands of western North America. The species is common to rare, with population densities fluctuating with annual environmental conditions. Estimation of a population size for Mexico, or even population trends, is not possible with current information. However, because natural habitats occupied by the Kit Fox are being transformed, it is safe to assume that, overall, populations in Mexico are declining. The species currently does not meet any of the thresholds for the threatened categories, and is presently assessed as Least Concern.
|Range Description:||The Kit Fox inhabits the deserts and arid lands of western North America. In the United States, it occurs from southern California to western Colorado and western Texas, north into southern Oregon and Idaho. In Mexico, it occurs across the Baja California Peninsula and across northern Sonora and Chihuahua to western Nuevo León, and south into northern Zacatecas (McGrew 1979; Hall 1981).|
Native:United States (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah)
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
The species is common to rare. Density fluctuates with annual environmental conditions, which are dependent upon precipitation (Cypher et al. 2000). In Utah, density ranged from 0.1–0.8/km² (Egoscue 1956, 1975). In California, density varied from 0.15–0.24/km² over a period of three years on one study site (White et al. 1996) and from 0.2–1.7/km² over 15 years on another study site (Cypher et al. 2000). Kit Fox densities in prairie dog town complexes in Mexico were 0.32–0.8/km² in Chihuahua (List 1997) and 0.1/km² in Coahuila and Nuevo Leon (Côtera 1996).
In Mexico, data on which to base a population estimate for Kit Foxes are only available from two localities with very specific characteristics (presence of prairie dog towns). Therefore, the estimation of a population size for the country or even population trends is not possible with current information. However, because natural habitats occupied by the Kit Fox are being transformed, it is safe to assume that, overall, populations of the Kit Fox in Mexico are declining. In the past 10 years, about 40% of prairie dog towns in Coahuila and Nuevo Leon were converted to agriculture (L. Scott and E. Estrada unpubl.).
In the United States, Kit Fox abundance is unknown. Population trends are assumed to be relatively stable in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada where harvests for fur continue. Populations in Idaho, Oregon, and the Mojave Desert in California also may be relatively stable due to a lack of significant threats. Populations are potentially increasing in Colorado where foot-hold trapping was recently banned. Populations of the Endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox in the San Joaquin Valley of California are likely still declining due to continuing habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation (USFWS 1998).
|Habitat and Ecology:||The Kit Fox inhabits arid and semi-arid regions encompassing desert scrub, chaparral, halophytic, and grassland communities (McGrew 1979; O'Farrell 1987). It is found in elevations ranging from 400–1,900 m a.s.l., although Kit Foxes generally avoid rugged terrain with slopes > 5% (Warrick and Cypher 1998). Loose textured soils may be preferred for denning. Kit Foxes will use agricultural lands, particularly orchards, on a limited basis, and also can inhabit urban environments (Morrell 1972).|
The main threat to the long-term survival of the Kit Fox is habitat conversion, mainly to agriculture but also to urban and industrial development. In both western and eastern Mexico, prairie dog towns, which support important populations of Kit Foxes are being converted to agricultural fields, and in eastern Mexico the road network is expanding, producing a concomitant increase in the risk of vehicle mortality. In the San Joaquin Valley of California, habitat conversion for agriculture is slowing, but habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation associated with industrial and urban development are still occurring at a rapid pace.
In Mexico, Kit Foxes are occasionally sold illegally in the pet market. Kit Foxes are harvested for fur in some states in the USA, but otherwise are not used commercially.
CITES – not listed (considered a subspecies of V. velox).
The Kit Fox is considered Vulnerable in Mexico (SEDESOL 1994). In the United States, the San Joaquin Kit Fox (V. m. mutica) is federally classified as Endangered, and as Threatened by the state of California (USFWS 1998). In Oregon, Kit Foxes are classified as Endangered. Harvests are not permitted in Idaho, Oregon, or California, and the Kit Fox is a protected furbearer species (i.e., regulated harvests) in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In Mexico, the vulnerable status of the Kit Fox grants conservation measures for the species, but these are not enforced. In the United States, state and federal protections for Kit Foxes are being enforced.
In Mexico, Kit Foxes are found in the Biosphere Reserves of El Vizcaino, Mapimi and El Pinacate, in the Area of Special Protection of Cuatro Ciénegas, and are probably found in another eight protected areas throughout their range. In the United States, they occur in numerous protected areas throughout their range. The Endangered subspecies V. m. mutica occurs in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and various other federal, state, and private conservation lands.
Efforts are underway to protect the prairie dog towns of both eastern (Pronatura Noreste) and western Mexico (Institute of Ecology from the National University of Mexico), which are known to be strongholds for the kit fox, but no specific actions focused on the kit fox are being undertaken in Mexico. In the United States, a recovery plan has been completed (USFWS 1998) and is being implemented for the San Joaquin Kit Fox. Recovery actions include protection of essential habitat, and demographic and ecological research in both natural and anthropogenically modified landscapes.
No captive breeding efforts are currently being conducted for kit foxes. Facilities such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, California Living Museum in Bakersfield, California, and several zoos keep live kit foxes for display and educational purposes. Also, Humboldt State University in Arcata, California maintains a small number of kit foxes for research and education.
Gaps in knowledge
In general, demographic and ecological data are needed throughout the range of the kit fox so that population trends and demographic patterns can be assessed. In Mexico, information available on the Kit Fox is scarce. The most important gaps in our knowledge of the species are the present distribution of the species and population estimates throughout its range. General biological information is needed from more localities in the Mexican range of the kit fox. In the United States, information is required on the San Joaquin Kit Fox including assessing the effects of roads and pesticides on Kit Foxes, investigating dispersal patterns and corridors, determining metapopulation dynamics and conducting viability analyses, developing conservation strategies in anthropogenically altered landscapes, assessing threats from non-native Red Foxes, and range-wide population monitoring.
Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Cotera, M. 1996. Untersuchungen zur ökologischen anpassung des wüstenfuchses Vulpes macrotis zinseri B. in Nuevo León, Mexiko. Ph.D. Thesis, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
Cypher, B. L., Warrick, G. D., Otten, M. R. M., O'Farrell, T. P., Berry, W. H., Harris, C. E., Kato, T. T., McCue, P. M., Scrivner, J. H. and Zoellick, B. W. 2000. Population dynamics of San Joaquin kit foxes at the Naval Petroleum Reserves in California. Wildlife Monographs 145.
Egoscue, H. J. 1956. Preliminary studies of the kit fox in Utah. Journal of Mammalogy 37: 351-357.
Egoscue, H. J. 1975. Population dynamics of the kit fox in western Utah. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Science 74: 122-127.
Hall, E. R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.
Hilton-Taylor, C. (ed.). 2000. 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
List, R. 1997. Ecology of the kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) and coyote (Canis latrans) and the conservation of the prairie dog ecosystem in northern Mexico. D. Phil. Thesis, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford.
Mcgrew, J. C. 1979. Vulpes macrotis. Mammalian Species 123: 1-6.
Morrell, S. 1972. Life history of the San Joaquin kit fox. California Fish and Game 58: 162-174.
O'Farrell, T. P. 1987. Kit fox. In: M. Novak, G. A. Baker, M. E. Obbard and B. Malloch, B. (eds), Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America, pp. 423-431. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Trappers Association, Ontario, Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
SEDESOL. 1994. Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-059-ECOL-1994 que determina las especies y subespecies de flora y fauna silvestres terrestres y acuáticas en peligro de extinción, amenazadas, raras y las sujetas a protección especial, y que establece especificaciones para su protección. Diario Oficial de la Federación 487(10): 2-60.
Sillero-Zubiri, C., Hoffmann, M. and Macdonald, D. W. (eds). 2004. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998. Recovery plan for upland species of the San Joaquin Valley, California. Portland, OR, USA.
Warrick, G. D. and Cypher, B. L. 1998. Factors affecting the spatial distribution of San Joaquin kit foxes. Journal of Wildlife Management 62: 707-717.
White, P. J., Vanderbilt White, C. A. and Ralls, K. 1996. Functional and numerical responses of kit foxes to a short-term decline in mammalian prey. Journal of Mammalogy 77: 370-376.
Wozencraft, W. C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A taxonomic and geographic reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.
|Citation:||IUCN SCC Canid Specialist Group (North America Regional Section) 2008. Vulpes macrotis. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 May 2013.|
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