Systematic aerial searches were flown on transects to locate adult red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), pups, and rearing dens on 559.4 km2 (six townships) in eastern North Dakota during mid-May and mid-June each year from 1969 through 1973 and during mid-April 1969 and early May 1970. The combined sightings of foxes and fox dens from the mid-May and mid-June searches were used to identify individual fox families. The number of fox families was used as the measurement of density. Dens, highly visible during the mid-May searches, were the most reliable family indicator; 84 percent of 270 families identified during the study were represented by dens. Adult foxes second in importance, were most observable during the mid-May searches when 20 to 35 percent of those estimated to be available were sighted. Adult sightings during other search periods ranged from 4 to 17 percent of those available. Pup sightings were the most variable family indicator, but they led to the discovery of some dens. Sources of error for which adjustment factors were determined are: den moves exceeding criterion established for the spacing of dens in a single family, overestimation of the number of fox families living near township boundaries, and the percentage of fox families overlooked during the aerial searches. These adjustment factors appeared to be largely compensatory.
Additional publication details
A spring aerial census of red foxes in North Dakota