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Red Fox Home Range. Reggie Horel Field Research 1st and 2nd hour. A little about the red fox. Red foxes are 3-3.5 feet in length, trim, long-legged, and built for speed.

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Red Fox Home Range

Reggie Horel

Field Research

1st and 2nd hour


A little about the red fox

Red foxes are 3-3.5 feet in length, trim, long-legged, and built for speed.

Red foxes vary in color from deep, russet red to sandy blonde. The legs, feet, and back of the ears are usually black. Underparts such as the chin, throat, and belly are white.


Male and female foxes begin to travel together in pairs during mid-December, but often do not breed until mid-January. Juveniles are sexually mature at about 10 months of age, and breed 3-4 weeks after adults become sexually active: Approximately 89% of the adult females and 59% of the juvenile females produce a litter.

A female may move her litter to an alternate den site (usually located within 1 mile of the current denning area) if she is disturbed. Fence rows, pastures, farm fields, or woodlots with loose soils are preferred denning habitats.

The red fox's gestation period is 53 days in length. An average litter consists of 5-6 pups which are born during mid-March. Abandoned burrows constructed by badgers or woodchucks are often enlarged and used by foxes as natal dens. Some foxes give birth to litters in bush piles or rock piles. About 11% of all Wisconsin dens are communal, meaning that foxes from more than one family share the same den site.


Feeding Habits

Red foxes eat a wide variety of foods, but show a preference for small and mid-sized mammals such as mice and cottontails. Plants and insects are often eaten during spring and summer.

Depending upon the time of year, up to 72% of the total volume of a fox's diet is composed of cottontail rabbits, making them the single most important food item of Wisconsin foxes. Red foxes also consume shrews, squirrels, songbirds, pheasants, ducks, grasshoppers, garbage, carrion, fruit, grass, grain, and other items.

Well developed senses of sight, smell, and hearing make the red fox an efficient predator. Scientific evidence indicates that a red fox can locate a rustling sound within 1 degree of its true location, and can hear a mouse squeal at 150 feet.

A variety of hunting styles are used to capture different types of prey. When hunting mice, foxes stalk within pouncing distance, lunge 2-6 feet, and try to pin their quarry with their front feet. If its prey escapes, the fox rears up on its hind legs, turns in all directions searching for the mouse, and makes another pounce if the mouse is spotted.


More History

Prior to settlement, red foxes were present throughout Wisconsin in limited numbers. Logging and farming by early settlers created better conditions for red foxes by increasing habitat diversity, but fox populations did not expand until 1930-'45.

The state paid bounties on red foxes intermittently between 1880 and 1963, but discontinued the program due to prohibitive administrative costs and questionable results. Some individual counties continued to pay bounties until 1980.

Research conducted in southern Wisconsin during the 1970's indicated that a year-round harvest season, combined with high pelt prices, had allowed foxes to be over harvested in some areas of the state. As a result, the first Wisconsin fox season, running from mid-October through the end of February, was initiated in 1972. The fox season was reduced to 4 months in length during 1976, and was shortened to 3 months in 1978. The current 3 to 3.5 month season provides ample recreational opportunities for Wisconsin hunters and trappers, yet limits harvests to biologically safe levels.

Red foxes are most abundant in southern central and western Wisconsin. The statewide population is currently stable at about 61,000 red foxes. Throughout southern Wisconsin, however, competition from expanding coyote populations may be causing a slight decline in fox numbers.


DNR Managment

Biological models are used to simulate the effects of different birth, death, and dispersal rates in red fox populations. Data collected from southern Wisconsin foxes indicated that fox numbers in this state reach stability when harvests approach 55% of the fall population.

Wisconsin's current management goal is to harvest approximately 27,000 red foxes per year (44% of the statewide population) through 1993.

Fox harvests in Wisconsin are controlled by setting the season length and opening date to balance recreational demands with the resources' capabilities.

The fox season north of state highway 64 opens 2 weeks earlier than in the southern zone, because furs become prime at an earlier date, and less harvest pressure is exerted on fox populations in northern Wisconsin. Average pelt values can affect statewide fox harvests, and are taken into consideration when seasons are set. Information from winter track counts, annual mammal observations hunter/trapper surveys, and fur buyer questionnaires are used to monitor changes in red fox abundance as well as harvest effort.


The Red Fox Home Range

The Red Fox Tracks and Scat.


Goals set:

  • To successfully catch a coyote.
  • Check traps daily.
  • Once coyote is caught, radio at least 4-5 times a week or more.
  • (This was still under effect, even though we ended up catching a fox)

Problems Encountered

When we started off early in the year, one coyote was killed which resulted in a unused collar. We set traps at my Grandparents in late November, we struggled to catch anything in the leg hold traps or snares. We caught every thing but a coyote, which includes, many raccoons, an opossum, and a fox, (which was let go) During the winter we couldn’t set coil traps so we set drag traps. We again didn’t have any luck catching a coyote. We had a lot of luck catching every thing else and especially the nice presents of a skunk! Then in February we caught a female fox, and decided that we were going to collar the fox, and get data. Finally we had caught something that we had been waiting for, for what seemed forever.


Traps Used

Drag set

Leg hold set

Live trap


Coil trap(leg hold)


The dirt hole set

The dirt hole set is one of the most effective sets for trapping. It is made by digging a small hole in the ground and hiding a trap in front of the hole. The mouse hole itself will attract the attention of an animal. Bait and lure placed in the hole will add additional attraction's to the set. The dirt hole set is especially effective for fox and coyotes.



Snares are considered to be traps, but they function differently than most other trapping devices. Snares are made of multi-strand steel cable. To use a snare, you form the cable into a loop and suspend the loop over a trail the animal is using. The animal enters the loop and tightens the snare down on itself. The snare is designed to capture the animal by the neck or body and restrain it like a dog on a leash.


This drag trap is usually attached to the coil or leg hold trap.

Drag Trap

The drag trap is used in all seasons but is most effected in the winter months when the ground is to hard to set a ground set. The drag trap is set the same way the coil trap is, covering the trap and the drag is a necessary to conceal from the animals. Once the animal is caught, it will drag the trap till it catches on stable object like a tree. This trap is effective in many ways.


~Live Traps~

Live Traps are used to usually catch smaller animals like raccoon, problem cats, opossum, skunk or any other small problem animal. They are rarely used for the catching of coyote, and fox, but they can be used for that. In which case we tried to used this method, but it didn’t work. Coyotes and foxes, are unsure, when they approach these traps and rarely go in them, because of suspicion.


Travis Farm

This is the location in which our fox was caught. You will notice a small yellow star, that is the precise site that in which it was caught.


Trap Locations

This map is a map that shows where our traps were located on the farm. We had a variety of different locations with different habitats.


Range Probability Explained

95%Probability of being in theblue.

50%Probability of being in thered.


.21Square Miles


.032Square Miles

(Greendots are data points)


Wetland lowland shrub broad leafed dec.

Ag. Corn

This chart shows the main habitat that the fox was located in.


Ag. Forest Crops

Forest mixed other broad leafed dec.


Core Range

The Lightest red (pink) was the range that the fox was located the most. The darker it gets the less was located.


Habitat Types of Harmonic Mean

Ag forage crops

Forest mixed

Ag forage crops

Ag Forage Crops


Forest mixed


Harmonic Mean Description

In the core activity areas of the Red Fox, it’s core areas out of six, were found in Ag. Forage crops.

Forage crop areas

Mixed Forest



Site Fidelity Test

(Random Walks)

Site Fidelity Test shows whether the data vs. random data is territorial.



Arc View