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Swift Fox


Swift FoxSwift Fox recovery efforts were privately initiated by a couple that owned the Wildlife Reserve of Western Canada (now Cochrane Ecological Institute - Cochrane Wildlife Reserve) near Cochrane, Alberta.  In 1973, they imported two pairs of Swift Foxes from Colorado, and established a captive breeding program for the species. These initial efforts stimulated the involvement of university researchers in 1976 and resulted in several thesis-based reintroduction feasibility studies.

By 1984, the project had expanded into an intensive reintroduction project involving four government agencies and six non-government organizations. The first major task for the Recovery Team was a three-year (1989-1992) study to determine if a niche still existed in the Canadian prairies for the Swift Fox and if so, what the most suitable methods of reintroduction were. Following this study, a National Recovery Plan for the Swift Fox was devised.

Since 1992, the emphasis of the reintroduction program has been to release wild-born animals, which survive and reproduce more successfully and cost less than captive-reared animals. 

Establishment of wild Swift Fox populations and reproduction by these populations indicate that it is possible for Swift Foxes to survive again on the Canadian prairies. The reintroduction efforts have been successful to date, however current populations remain extremely vulnerable due to their small size and isolation from other wild populations.

Reprinted from Alberta Wildlife Status Report No. 7 (1997), with permission from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

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