San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica) occur in central California, USA, and are endangered due to habitat loss and degradation. As the human population of California grows, more roads are being constructed in remaining kit fox habitat. We examined effects of 2-lane roads on demographic and ecological patterns of kit foxes on the Lokern Natural Area (LNA) from August 2001 to June 2004. Of 60 radiocollared kit foxes, only one was struck by a vehicle. Foxes were assigned to 1 of 3 risk categories (high, medium, or low) based on proportion of time spent in road-effect zones, which were defined by the probability of a fox encountering a road during nocturnal movements. Fox survival probabilities, reproductive success, litter size, nocturnal movements, and den placement all were similar among risk categories. Nocturnal locations of foxes were closer to roads than were den locations, and den fidelity was lowest for medium-risk foxes and highest for low-risk foxes but intermediate for high-risk foxes. Food availability and use were not affected by proximity to roads. We were unable to detect any significant detrimental effects from 2-lane roads on kit fox demography and ecology. Our results suggest that standard mitigation strategies, such as crossing structures and exclusionary fencing, would not benefit kit foxes on the LNA.
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Vol. 73 • No. 6