Demographics of a protected population of gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in South Carolina
Weston, Julie Lynn Murray
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Nearly all data published on gray fox demographics, such as density, age structure, sex ratio, and reproduction, come from populations subject to harvest pressure, while virtually nothing is known of these demographic parameters in unharvested populations. This study was initiated to explore the demographics of a protected population of gray foxes located on the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, near Aiken, South Carolina. Foxes (n = 75) were trapped January through March from 1998-2000. Results indicated a high-density population of 0.97 foxes/km2. Age structure of the current SRS gray fox population differed significantly from the age structure at the same site from 1954-56 (?2 = 30.38, d.f.= 2, P < 0.001). The greatest numbers of foxes were in the 10-month-old (37.2%) and ?34-month-old (52.6%) age classes while the least number of foxes were in the 22-month-old age class (10.3%). The sex ratio was biased toward females (58.7%). Although litter size (3.6 young/litter) was smaller than in some other populations, the percentage of barren females was 11.1%, which is higher than most other populations. Although immigration and emigration could not be quantified, the results suggest this population could serve as a source for surrounding gray fox populations.