Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Wildlife Science

Committee Chair(s)

J. Juan Spillett


J. Juan Spillett


Frederick F. Knowlton


Bradley W. Parlin


Gar W. Workman


Albert W. Heggen


The distribution of the kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) in Utah was studied from 1974 to 1976. A variety of methods were used, but a questionnaire sent annually to state and federal agencies, combined with interviews of field personnel of these agencies, was found to be the most valuable. Kit foxes occur in western Utah and Washington County as previously reported. In addition, range extensions were noted in central Utah, and in Carbon, Emery, Grand, Wayne, and Garfield counties in east-central Utah. These range extensions total approximately 4,600-square miles (12,000-square kilometers). The kit fox probably also inhabits San Juan County, but this was not confirmed.

Stepwise discriminant analysis was performed on groups of skull s representing the three nominal subspecies of V. macrotis reported to occur in Utah (V. m. nevadensis, arsipus, and neomexicana). The skulls were judged to represent three distinct populations significantly different from each other in at least seven skull characteristics. Six specimens from eastern Utah and western Colorado were tentatively assigned to V. m. nevadensis.

Throughout their range in the state kit foxes are generally associated with desert soils and desert shrub vegetation, elevations below 5, 500 feet (1,676 m), and relatively mild winters. Winter severity is apparently a limiting factor on kit fox distribution in the northern part of Utah.

Kit foxes are common in west-central and east-central portions of the state. Trapping and hunting are probably important mortality factors in local areas, but the impact of predator control has been greatly reduced by the ban on the use of toxicants on public lands. A method of monitoring kit fox abundance and population trends in areas with rapidly increasing human populations would be advisable, and a program to promote the nonconsumptive use of kit foxes is recommended.



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