DNR Requesting Gray Fox Sighting Reports

(UNDATED) – In 2020, the Department of Natural Resources began a gray fox research project in collaboration with the Wildlife Ecology Institute and Luther College.

You can help make the project successful by reporting gray fox sightings.

Gray fox

Gray foxes have brown legs and ear backs, and a black stripe down the top of their tail, as opposed to red foxes, which have black legs and ear backs, and usually a white tip on the tail.

Gray foxes are a valuable and understudied furbearer not only in Indiana, but generally across its entire range. Several indices suggest range contractions not only in Indiana, but also other Midwest states.

The factors causing these distributional changes is unknown, but may be linked to habitat loss and fragmentation, changing mesocarnivore (e.g., coyote) community structure, disease, and other factors, and likely is a complex relationship among these factors.

During 2020–2023, DNR are implementing a large-scale, comprehensive study at two study sites in Indiana, with objectives designed to directly assess causes of population changes of gray foxes and to provide recommendations for the management of this species that can be applied in Indiana, but also other Midwest states.

Geriann Albers of Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Dr. Dawn Reding of Luther College are providing critical expertise as collaborators on this project.

What does this substantial effort include:

  • Capturing and GPS-collaring 40–70 gray foxes in two multi-count study sites in Indiana
  • Assessing survivorship and cause-specific mortality, including an attempt to assess pup survival
  • Determining space use and habitat selection of gray foxes
  • Modeling potential gray fox habitat in Indiana using Maxent software
  • Assessing diseases and parasites of gray foxes
  • Conducting diet analysis
  • Evaluating gene flow and identifying potential genetic barriers

Learn more about the project and find a form to submit sightings here.