June 21st, 2024

Swift foxes near the Hat a cause for celebration

By Mo Cranker on August 4, 2018.

A group of swift foxes is captured on a motion censor camera roughly 50 kilometres south of Medicine Hat. The species went extinct in Alberta years ago, but is now back and living in the region thanks to conservation efforts.--PHOTO COURTESY NATURE CONSERVANCY OF CANADA


The Nature Conservancy of Canada recently discovered a family of swift foxes south of Medicine Hat, and the organization is calling the discovery very significant.

Swift foxes became extinct in Canada in the 1930s but are now starting to slowly repopulate due to recent conservation efforts in southeast Alberta.

“At the end of July we were able to locate a number of swift foxes on a conservation site in southeast Alberta,” said communications co-ordinator for the Alberta region Carys Richards. “The reason this is a really big deal is that swift foxes, for a little while, were locally extinct in Canada, but they were quite abundant before that.

“The decline of the swift foxes is mainly attributed to the growth of large-scale agriculture, resulting in their loss of habitat.”

Swift foxes weigh four to six pounds on average and at full speed they can run up to 60 km/h, and their diets change depending on the year. Richards says the foxes were brought back to Canada from the U.S.

“The foxes were re-introduced from some captive breeding programs that brought them in from the United States and bred them in Canada,” she said. “Because of these efforts there’s actually a small but stable population of about 100 foxes living in Alberta now, and all those foxes are descendants from the reintroduced species.

“So this is just a really great conservation success story about an animal that was once extinct.”

The swift fox is still classified as extremely endangered, but this is a step in the right direction.

“Right now we’re not telling people where the conservation area is that the foxes are living on, we don’t want any human interference,” said Richards. “All we’re saying is that it is south of Medicine Hat and about 50 kilometres from the Saskatchewan border.

“We acquired the site about 10 years ago and it did not have any foxes living on it. We knew it was the type of place foxes would typically live, so we’ve slowly been improving it with the hopes that foxes would call it their home.”

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5 years ago

Recently spent a whole bunch of time with this exact swift fox family near Manyberries: https://www.laynevanrhijn.photo/Photo-Galleries/Wildlife/