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Central & North AmericaKit fox Vulpes microtis

Kit Fox - © Rurik List

Island, Kit & Swift Fox Working Group - Brian Cypher and Tim Coonan are the coordinators of the Island, Kit & Swift Fox Working Group. The working group report that for both kit foxes and swift foxes, habitat continues to be lost and remaining habitat is increasing subject to degradation, fragmentation, and incompatible uses. The future prognosis for island foxes is however significantly improved. After 4 of 6 subspecies suffered catastrophic declines due to novel predators and disease, mitigation measures have been immensely successful and these 4 populations have returned to or are approaching pre-decline levels. This page highlights some of the recent issues and current conservation needs for these species.

Relevant LinksReports / PapersOther Names

English: Desert Fox; Spanish: Zorra Del Desierto, Zorro Norteña.

Least Concern

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.

Population trend:Decreasing

(Kit fox range map)
(Click on map for more detail)

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).


Major Threats:

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.