A kit fox sits in the sand at Little Sahara Recreation Area, Utah.

Utah Featured Wildlife Project

Recently, there is interest in determining the status of kit fox (Vulpes macrotis), a BLM sensitive species, in portions of Utah’s west desert.  The abundance of kit fox in Utah’s west desert appears to have declined markedly from the 1970s. 

In 2014, the BLM-UT began a project in partnership with Brigham Young University (BYU) to test a new BLM kit fox survey protocol. What started out as a small project to assess the validity of the new protocol and to inform proposed development in the Fillmore Field Office, blossomed into a statewide survey effort.

In the summer of 2016, survey efforts expanded into the eastern half of the state, near Moab and Hanksville, Utah. BYU set up the research study according to the BLM protocol and tested different types of scent stations to assess how they worked. Scent stations tested were: hollowed out golf ball, scent tablet and cotton swabs soaked scent.

This information will be used to improve survey efficiency as it will be added to the BLM-UT survey protocol. Study locations have include areas of suitable kit fox habitat in the BLM’s  Salt Lake Field Office, the Fillmore Field Office, the St. George Field Office, the Henry Mountain Field Station, and the Moab Field Office, and have also been completed on the DOD’s Hill Air Force Base and Dugway Proving Grounds. The information collected to date as helped verify the new BLM-UT survey protocol which will likely be published in the spring of 2017. Full results of this study should be available summer 2017.

A kit fox sniffs the scented golf ball. Caught on a night-cam.