Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Home Range, Dispersal and Density of Red Foxes (Vulpes Vulpes L.) In Central Victoria.

BJ Coman, J Robinson and C Beaumont

Wildlife Research 18(2) 215 - 223
Published: 1991


Between 1983 and 1986, various aspects of red fox spatial behaviour were studied in both rural and semi-urban environments in central Victoria. Using radio-telemetry, the short-term home ranges of three adult foxes (2 male, 1 female) in a pasture/woodland habitat were estimated to be of the order of 5-7 km2 each. In a semi-urban environment nearby, the home ranges of a further 3 adult animals (2 male, 1 female) were estimated to be 0.6-1.3 km2 each. Estimates of home range size based on a 90% space utilisation effectively halved the home range area for all six foxes. There were indications that, for the animals concerned, ranges were mutually exclusive except in the case of a breeding pair which shared a common home range. During the studies, 137 young fox cubs were ear-tagged and released at the point of capture. Subsequently, 46 of these animals were returned by hunters. Nearly 70% of the returned animals were killed at a distance of 2 km or less from the tagging site but dispersal distances of up to 30 km were recorded. The average dispersal distance for animals killed more than 2 km from the tagging site was 11 km. Estimates of fox density in a rural area of some 2400 ha were obtained by a survey of active breeding dens in the 1985 and 1986 breeding seasons. Assuming one breeding pair plus three surviving young per litter, the maximum summer density was estimated at about 3.0 foxes km-2 and the minimum winter density as about 1.2 foxes km-2. For a further estimate of density, 13 foxes were live-captured, fitted with radios and released. In a short control program on the study area a few weeks later, 7 of these animals were recovered in a total sample of 50 foxes killed. The remaining 6 foxes were established as still present in the study area. Using this capturehecapture data, an early autumn density of about 3.9 foxes km-2 was indicated. The significance of this data in relation to the possible role of foxes as vectors of rabies disease in Australia is discussed.


© CSIRO 1991

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