Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) population trends in midwestern North America since 1800 were examined. During 1801-1900, the red fox expanded its range south to include most of the region, but populations remained low in most areas. During 1901-30, it became scarce or absent in many northern areas but was common in southern areas. During 1931-45, populations in most of the region increased to high levels. From 1946 to 1980 populations remained high and westward range expansions occurred on the northern plains. Three factors appear primarily responsible for major population changes. Habitat conditions improved after settlement, but in many areas population buildup was delayed. Interspecific canid competition, especially from expanding coyote (Canis latrans) populations, held red fox populations at low levels, especially in the west. Excessive harvest for fur contributed to holding populations down in many areas, especially during the early 1900's when pelt values were exceptionally high. Major population increases during the 1930's and early 1940's coincided with declining pelt prices and resulted in widespread implementation of fox bounties. In the 1960's, bounties were gradually discontinued, pelt prices increased, and restrictions on season length and harvest methods were implemented in most states.
Additional publication details
A case history of a dynamic resource--the red fox
The Wildlife Society, Kansas Chapter, North Central, Central Mountains, and Plains Sections