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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

January 8, 2001
Contacts: Pete Gober 605-224-8693 ext 24
Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408

Swift Fox No Longer Candidate for Endangered Species Listing

Based on the availability of new biological information, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service no longer believes that the swift fox should be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This decision removes it from consideration for listing based on its current status.

In response to a petition to list the swift fox, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife determined in 1995 that a threatened listing was warranted but did not proceed with a listing action because resources necessary to complete the listing process were unavailable.

The warranted but precluded finding prompted state wildlife agencies within the species current and historic range to form the Swift Fox Conservation Team to work cooperatively on swift fox management and conservation. The team, in coordination with other interested parties, assembled existing information, collected new biological data, and implemented swift fox monitoring and management programs.

In an assessment of the species’ current status, the Service concluded that although the swift fox has been reduced across much of its historical range, viable populations currently occur in approximately 40% of those areas formerly occupied. The species also appears to be more adaptable to a wide range of habitat types and more tolerant of modified land uses than previously believed. Furthermore, the continuing efforts of the Conservation Team indicate that management activities for this species will be carefully considered in the future.

Successful reintroduction efforts in Canada and on Blackfeet Tribal lands in Montana have also contributed to understanding the behavior, ecology, and habitat requirements of swift fox.

"I commend the efforts led by the states and other partners to address the status of the swift fox," said Ralph Morgenweck, the Services’s Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region. "When new data is provided and when circumstances change due to the strenuous efforts of concerned management agencies, the Service takes these factors into consideration in the continuing evaluations required for candidate species."

The primary focus of the Conservation Team over the past six years has been to document swift fox distribution through the historic range. In addition, the team has worked with the Service to develop and implement a conservation strategy for swift fox.

"Moving forward, our efforts will concentrate on management of existing populations and determining barriers that may prevent natural dispersal of swift fox into uncolonized suitable habitat," said Julianne Whitaker Hoagland, biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and chairperson of the Conservation Team. "Our goal continues to be the long-term viability of the species."

"This action by the Service indicates that our biological decisions are based on the best available information," said Pete Gober, the Service’s South Dakota Field Office Supervisor. "I hope that this decision encourages others to work for the conservation of other species at risk."

"Neither the Service nor the States want to see species placed on the endangered species list; each new listing represents a wildlife conservation failure," said Morgenweck. "The challenge now is to continue working together, get ahead of the curve, identify species in trouble, and put ecosystems in working order before the situation leads to an endangered species listing."

The smallest of the canids, the swift fox is only found in the Great Plains of North America. Historically, the species was distributed from southern Canada to the panhandle of Texas, and from northwest Montana to western Minnesota. The disappearance of native prairies, accidental trapping, shooting, and poisoning campaigns aimed at wolves and coyotes, contributed to the decline in the fox’s habitat and numbers.

For further information about the swift fox, visit the Service’s web site at: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/mammals/swiftfox

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 530 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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