Swift fox (Photo by Karol Dabbs)
Travelling through the prairies at up to 60 kilometres an hour, the swift fox gets its name for its speed.
During the 20th century, the swift fox disappeared entirely from the wild in Canada, mostly as a result of habitat destruction.
A successful reintroduction
In 1983, the Cochrane Ecological Institute launched a larger program to reintroduce the fox to parts of its former range in Canada, in partnership with:
- Canadian Wildlife Service
- Governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba
- University of Calgary
- World Wildlife Fund
- Agriculture Canada
Most of the introduced animals came from the wild in the United States. Others were bred in captivity in Canada by the institute, using stock imported from the U.S.
"The swift fox reintroduction program has been one of the most successful canid reintroductions in the world," says Joel Nicholson, non-game biologist with Alberta Fish and Wildlife, one of the participants in the program.
A 2005-2006 census of swift fox populations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the state of Montana counted 1,162 swift foxes that had mostly been born in the wild.
This is still a very low number. Although it is no longer considered extirpated, the swift fox is still an endangered
What is NCC doing to protect this species?
Habitat protection is one of the most important ways to ensure this animal's long-term survival. The Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) landscape-scale work in prairie areas such as the Sage Creek Uplands of Alberta and Saskatchewan's Frenchman River is helping with that.
In fact, NCC was recently part of a study with the Calgary Zoo. Researchers confirmed the presence of swift foxes on the Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area in Saskatchewan.
How you can help
Swift fox is one of 25 species or landscape options that can be symbolically adopted through NCC’s Gifts of Canadian Nature gift-giving program, that contributes to critical conservation work across the country.
Your gift will help care for habitat that swift fox and other species rely on for their survival.
You will receive a tax receipt for your donation, and you will help protect our country’s natural areas and the species they sustain—for today, tomorrow and for generations to come.