The red fox is one of nature’s most resilient and adaptable survivors. For centuries, red foxes have been a fixture in North America, living in diverse ecosystems all over the continent. There are roughly 10 million red foxes living in North America, with certain states having larger populations than others. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the red fox population by state and explore why some regions have more of these clever animals than others. Let’s learn about what influences the presence of red foxes throughout the United States.
U.S. States with Red Fox Populations
We’ll talk about the estimated red fox population by state, as well as how that population has evolved over time and the history of red foxes in each state.
First, let’s talk about the state we don’t find red foxes in: Hawaii.
Red foxes are not native to Hawaii and are thus not found there. While foxes may have been occasionally brought to the islands as pets, they were never released into the wild or established as native species.
The Hawaiian ecosystem is especially vulnerable to invasive species, and introducing non-native predators like red foxes could disrupt it significantly. As an isolated ecosystem, it is rare to find a species native to the contiguous United States living in Hawaii, much less native to Hawaii.
When discussing the population of a species, we often find that a species has been completely eradicated from certain states. However, red foxes seem to have grown their habitat range rather than having it reduced by humans. They were not seen in the eastern United States until the 1800s when the European red fox was brought here and quickly adapted to the habitat. The American red fox, a subspecies of the red fox, is native to the Western part of the United States as well as Alaska.
Red Fox Population in 49 States
Not including Hawaii, red foxes are found in every other U.S. state not included in the table above, however we were not able to find numerical estimates. We will discuss each state in more depth below.
In the state of Alabama, red fox populations have been steadily increasing in recent years. According to research conducted by Auburn University, red foxes can be found in nearly all counties across the state.
Red foxes can also be found in Alabama’s national parks, such as the Russell Cave National Monument and the Auburn University Arboretum. While its exact size is not known, the red fox population appears to be thriving in Alabama, although it is not as sizeable as the red fox populations in some other parts of the country.
Red foxes are the most abundant of Alaska’s fox species. The red fox is a generalist, meaning it can survive in many different habitats. In Alaska, they are found in tundra, boreal forests, and even urban areas. Over the last two decades, Alaska’s red fox population has been impressively resilient to human disturbance, reportedly ranging from 20,000-40,000 individuals. What is even more extraordinary is that they are able to survive in temperatures as low as -50°F.
In Arizona, the red fox population is relatively stable and commonly found in more remote areas of the state, including high desert and mountain regions. Often seen near water sources, such as creeks and rivers, red foxes can also be spotted around abandoned farmhouses or other outbuildings where they may find shelter. Despite their seemingly small territory size, red foxes are very adaptable and can survive in a variety of habitats, making them successful residents of the Grand Canyon State.
In Arkansas, red fox populations are abundant in most rural areas. Though they may occasionally be spotted in more urban settings, they typically prefer to inhabit wilder landscapes with plenty of brush and thickets for shelter.
Red foxes have been known to hunt alongside coyotes and other canines in the region. The red fox represents a crucial component of Arkansas’ native wildlife, as they help maintain the rodent population at healthy levels. Not only that, but these creatures also present recreational opportunities for hunters and photographers alike.
It’s no surprise that the red fox is one of California’s most visible and ubiquitous mammals. In rural areas, these cunning creatures can often be spotted during daylight hours hunting for small rodents or scavenging for food. Incredibly enough, they’ve also adapted to city life -you may even spot them snooping around backyards in search of edibles or strolling down urban streets.
Found in nearly every part of California, from the Pacific Coast to high-elevation mountains and forests, red foxes are ubiquitous. However, it is important to note that a rare subspecies of red fox, the Sierra Nevada red fox, lives in eastern California and is considered critically endangered, with only 50 left in the wild.
A haven for red foxes, Colorado is home to these sly canines. Red foxes are found across the state’s varied terrain -from desert habitats and lush forests to grasslands and alpine tundra. To ensure their numbers remain healthy, Colorado has trapping regulations in place.
In Connecticut, the red fox population abounds, with the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection keeping tabs on these hybrid red foxes. The red foxes of Connecticut are primarily a combination of true North American species and European variants that were imported when settlers from Europe first arrived in the 1700s.
The red fox population in Delaware is among the largest and most widespread of any state in the United States. The increase can be attributed to a variety of factors, including habitat management and conservation efforts. Red foxes in Delaware are found in a variety of habitats ranging from rural, agricultural areas to parks and even urban environments.
The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has taken a number of measures over the years in order to ensure that red fox populations remain healthy throughout the state, including monitoring population levels and encouraging responsible hunting practices.
In Florida, red foxes are common throughout the state and can be found in a variety of habitats. They are not native to the state, but have adapted seamlessly enough that they are considered naturalized to the state of Florida. It is thought red foxes were introduced to Florida in the 1950s, where they took root and rapidly grew their population size.
A common species in Georgia, the red fox has populations throughout the state except for the lowest portions of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, there is no exact estimate of how many red foxes are present in the state. However, they are considered abundant and can be found in both rural and suburban areas as well as parks.
The only state in the U.S. that does not boast a native red fox population is Hawaii, where there are no red foxes. In fact, the only two mammals native to Hawaii are the Hawaiian hoary bat and the monk seal. You can find red foxes in most of the United States and Canada, Hawaii is the only exception.
Idaho’s exact red fox population is unknown and can be discovered in most parts of the state, especially in rural communities. Hunting and trapping these animals requires a Fish and Game permit for any year-round activity. Red foxes contribute significantly to the ecosystem in Idaho by acting as population control for the animals they eat.
According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, there are an estimated 7,000 red foxes living in the state. The population density of red foxes is lesser in the souther part of the state, and the species can be found living in wooded areas or grasslands throughout the state of Illinois.
With their population estimated to be around 10,000, red foxes are a common sight in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources tracks 12 species of furbearers in the state, including red foxes.
In addition to wild populations, Indiana University Fort Wayne feels a special affinity to the animal. as it recently has introduced the red fox as their school mascot. Red foxes have always been welcomed in the Hoosier State home and continue to thrive throughout Indiana today.
According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 24 red foxes were observed in 2020, compared to 58 in 2019 across the state, indicating a decline in the red fox population. Research shows the red fox population has been decreasing since the early 2000s, and that just because they are spotted in urban areas doesn’t mean that the red fox population in Iowa is doing well.
For example, a red fox was spotted in daylight on the Iowa State campus as recently as 2021- an abnormal pattern of behavior that may indicate underlying sickness and disease that the red fox population in Iowa is not equipped to handle.
Foxes are a common sight in Kansas, with red foxes being the most prevalent species. According to the Kansas Mammal Atlas, red foxes are found in a variety of habitats throughout the state, from rural and suburban areas to parks. It is estimated that there are thousands of red foxes living in the area.
A vital part of the Kansas ecosystem, red foxes help sustain biological diversity by regulating prey populations and keeping them in check. In doing so, these predators are essential for preserving the environment’s natural equilibrium.
Red foxes are one of the two species of foxes native to Kentucky, along with gray foxes. It is difficult to estimate how many red foxes there are in Kentucky due to their reclusive nature and wide range of habitats. However, according to Art Lander’s Outdoors, they can sometimes be spotted around the state- if you’re lucky.
Found anywhere from woodlands to coastal marshes, red foxes roam freely and abundantly in Louisiana, making dens in stream banks or gullies. Louisiana has listed red and gray foxes as protected under state law.
Eating tendencies of red foxes in Louisiana differ from other states, as red foxes in Louisiana appear to utilize insects more than their counterparts in other states. This is likely due to the abundance of insects available in the area and still allows the red fox to play a critical role in prey management.
Widespread in all 16 counties of Maine, the number of red foxes in Maine is difficult to estimate due to their elusive nature. They are common in urban and suburban areas, as they have adapted to survive in these environments. They prefer wooded areas but can also be found near farms and villages due to the abundance of food sources available.
As well as being the only fox living in Maryland, red foxes are one of the most abundant mammals in Maryland. The majority of red foxes prefer wooded areas, but can also occupy grasslands, marshes, suburban environments, and even the beach.
While passersby get a unique thrill from seeing a red fox on a beach, it’s fairly common for residents of coastal towns to spot a red fox taking a stroll on the beach.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources cannot provide an estimate of how many red foxes live in Maryland, simply that they are commonplace. While they are often viewed as a nuisance, red foxes can also be an asset to farmers as they help keep rodent populations down, protecting crops from destruction.
Abundant throughout Massachusetts, red foxes are all over the state except on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, which have their own isolated ecosystems. According to Mass Audubon, red foxes are more common than gray foxes in the state. It is estimated that there are thousands of red foxes living in Massachusetts.
Michigan is home to the majestic red fox, with its presence spanning from every corner of the state. This species coexists alongside gray foxes in a harmonious balance.
Red foxes tend to live as close-knit family units and typically only form a partnership with one mate for life. They are great hunters who prefer wooded areas near open fields for ample food sources and prey opportunities.
The red fox is an integral part of the Minnesota wildlife ecosystem, and it can be seen in cities such as Minneapolis-St. Paul along with their suburban surroundings.
Although it’s impossible to conclude exactly how many are currently residing in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, there is no doubt that red foxes are prevalent here. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these creatures when you visit parks or rural areas – even if you’re just taking a walk around your neighborhood.
How many red foxes live in Mississippi? We can’t be sure, but they do call this state home. These sly critters usually reside at the edges of woodlands beside open fields and wetlands as well as parks. Red foxes possess phenomenal sight, smell, and hearing abilities that allow them to evade human contact when possible.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, there are over 100,000 red foxes scattered across the state. Red foxes often prefer to inhabit the land in forests and open areas, but they also thrive in urban and suburban zones. From November 15 through January 31 is hunting season for these captivating creatures; however, during this period there isn’t an established limit on how many can be hunted at once.
Montana is home to the elusive red fox, whose unique coloring and patterning help it blend into its environment. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem harbors these nocturnal canids, which are the largest of the true foxes.
While there isn’t an exact count of how many reside in Montana, you may be able to spot one if you’re lucky! According to the Montana Field Guide, their coat ranges from rufous coloration with various patterns that make them challenging (but not impossible) for curious eyes.
The exact number of red foxes in Nebraska is unknown. However, there have been numerous sightings of the animals throughout the state. Red foxes can be found in woodland edges along open fields, meadows, and even urban areas such as Lincoln.
In fact, since January 2021, 90 people have reported more than 150 fox sightings in the city alone. Researchers from the Lincoln Fox Project are even studying the distribution, diets, and disease exposure of red foxes in both rural and urban areas of Lancaster County to better understand how foxes living near and in Lincoln will affect their population.
The red fox is fairly uncommon in Nevada but does inhabit parts of the state. It is not precisely known how many red foxes there are in Nevada right now. This canid species is found throughout most of North America and prefers to stay hidden within habitats such as woodland edges, meadows, and even urban areas.
An even more uncommon sighting in Nevada is the Sierra Nevada red fox, a subspecies of red fox found in the Oregon Cascades and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is estimated that there are only about 50 of these foxes left in Nevada, making them a rare species. They are typically found at high elevations above 5,000 feet in the southern Cascades and 7,000 feet in the central Sierra.
A more compact body size and dark fur color set the Sierra Nevada fox apart as a subspecies from other red foxes. Due to its small population size, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced that it will be protecting this species and listing it as an endangered species. Conservation efforts are being made to protect this unique species and ensure its survival for future generations.
29. New Hampshire
New Hampshire is home to a thriving population of red foxes, one of the most numerous species in the area. Reaching weights between 8-12 pounds and lifespans up to 3-7 years, these animals often have light orange-red coats with black legs, white bellies, and white tails. Although accurately estimating their numbers can be difficult due to their sly nature, it’s fair to say that New Hampshire is full of them.
30. New Jersey
New Jersey is home to an estimated 10,000 red foxes that have found solace within the wooded landscapes and open fields of this state. These incredibly adaptable animals thrive in a variety of habitats; from rural areas to cities and even suburbia. In short, you can catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures all over New Jersey if you know where to look.
31. New Mexico
Despite being a rare sight in the Chihuahuan Desert of eastern New Mexico, red foxes were documented to be present across all four counties surveyed by researchers with the Navajo Natural Heritage Program.
Estimating the exact population of red foxes in New Mexico is quite hard to do given their ability to quickly and slyly move about. It’s thought that there are fewer than 500 living in the state, and it should be noted that this figure could vary depending on climate conditions, food resources, and other variables.
32. New York
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, determining an exact count of red foxes state-wide is a complex task. From Staten Island to Lake Placid and everywhere in between, these creatures reside across a wide spectrum terrain including forests, fields, and other open areas. They feed on different critters such as insects or rodents plus fruits and berries.
33. North Carolina
North Carolina is home to an abundance of red foxes, with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission estimating that 10-15 thousand inhabit the state. In recent years, these furry predators have seen a dramatic population increase on coastal islands in particular; their numbers seemingly swelling from year to year.
The gray fox is the only native species of fox in North Carolina- the red fox was thought to have been introduced to the state by European immigrants. Both species of fox can be seen in many parts of North Carolina, but they tend to avoid heavily populated areas. They prefer wooded or brushy habitats where they can find food and shelter from predators.
34. North Dakota
The exact number of red foxes in North Dakota is not known, but there have been studies conducted to estimate the population. According to an aerial census conducted, there were an estimated 1.5 red foxes per square kilometer in eastern North Dakota.
Additionally, research has found that there was an average of 2.3 red foxes per square kilometer in a 360-km2 area of North Dakota. Red foxes are well adapted to their environment and can be found in almost all types of habitats. They usually make their dens near the top of small hills and prefer areas with plenty of cover such as brushy fields or wooded areas. The red fox has also extended its range northward with increasing temperatures due to climate change.
Ohio boasts a healthy population of two fox species: the red fox and the gray fox. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reports that the numbers of red foxes have remained steady over time, according to surveys conducted by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Red foxes prefer forested areas with open brushland, although they can be spotted in a variety of habitats, including the well-known Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Although there is no definite population number, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation estimates that there are a few thousand red foxes living in the state. Red foxes can be found throughout Oklahoma, but they are more common in rural areas than in urban ones.
The population of red foxes has been increasing over the past few years due to increased protection from hunting and trapping. Foxes have also been seen in residential neighborhoods, indicating that their numbers may be growing even further.
The range of the red fox in Oregon extends from the Rockies to the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon. The Rocky Mountain Red Fox, a subspecies of red fox, inhabits high-elevation meadows and forests in Oregon.
Genetic studies have shown that the Rocky Mountain Red Fox is more common than previously thought in the Blue Mountains ecoregion of northeastern Oregon. There are multiple populations of red foxes living throughout Oregon, though their exact numbers remain unknown.
Roaming throughout Pennsylvania, red foxes thrive in open woodlands covered with meadows and marshes. They also take advantage of close proximity to farms and suburban developments, typically comprising a home range between four and ten miles but occasionally traveling up to twenty miles in pursuit of food.
The Pennsylvania Mammal Atlas estimates that there could be over 50,000 red foxes living in the state. This is due to their adaptability to different habitats and their ability to thrive in both rural and urban areas.
39. Rhode Island
Want to spot a red fox? You may find that Rhode Island is the perfect place for such an adventure. Red foxes, alongside gray foxes, are both native species in this state and have made their homes on mainland communities throughout the area, as well as Aquidneck Island, Jamestown, and Prudence Island.
It’s thought that at least several hundred of them call these areas home, inhabiting open woodlots interspersed with fields and meadows.
40. South Carolina
Since the 1700s, red foxes have resided in South Carolina–populating areas ranging from pastures to woodlands and even suburban neighborhoods. Their abundance makes it difficult to determine precisely how many there are across the state. However, you can likely spot them near agricultural sites if you stay vigilant.
41. South Dakota
Although the exact population of red foxes in South Dakota remains a mystery, these animals can be found throughout the region. In particular, East South Dakota is an ideal habitat for them to thrive. Red foxes often inhabit grasslands and woodlands as well as urban areas from the Black Hills all along to the Missouri River.
The most commonplace of the two species that inhabit Tennessee, red foxes pop up around nearly all parts of the state. Although there is no exact number known for this particular mammal in Tennessee, Nashville has recently reported a surge in red fox sightings. Furthermore, their population rises and falls depending on what season it currently is.
Texas is home to two common species of foxes, the red fox and the gray fox. In a derivation from the red fox population in other states, the entire red fox population of Central Texas probably descended, at least partially, from forty foxes released between 1890 and 1895 near Waco.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, these non-native foxes were brought to the colonies from England for sport hunting in the late 1800s. Today, there are an estimated 40,000 red foxes living in Texas, likely hybrid foxes that are offspring of the European red foxes and native red foxes to North America.
Foxes are a common sight in Utah, with the red fox being the most commonly seen species. For an animal that enjoys solitary habitats, red fox sightings have become increasingly common in cities and suburban settings. According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, they can be found all year round and have been spotted in metropolitan areas as well as rural habitats. There is not a confirmed population count for the state of Utah.
European settlers introduced red foxes to Vermont in the early-mid 1800s, and since then their population has soared. These canny carnivores now inhabit rural as well as suburban regions across the state, with Burlington Free Press dubbing 2021 “The Year of The Fox” due to a continual rise in sightings of vixens and kits – an occurrence that has only continued.
Everywhere across the state of Virginia, you can find red foxes, the exception being the southeastern region. These sly creatures prefer to live in densely forested areas where they create their dens and burrows.
Particularly in Northern Virginia, these cunning critters are known for occupying suburban or even urban spaces. Trying to estimate exactly how many red foxes live in Virginia has proven to be hard. However, what we do know is that these animals play a significant role in their ecosystem by consuming small rodents, poultry, birds, and insects for nourishment.
Washington is home to a distinct variety of red foxes, the Cascade Red Fox. This particular subspecies can be found in Washington’s southern range of mountains and it is estimated that only 500-1000 individuals remain within its native habitat. The Cascade Red Fox has also been introduced to other regions across the state and occupies an area from the center of the state down to the east cascades.
48. West Virginia
Foxes are a common sight in West Virginia, and the largest fox species found in the state is the Red Fox. According to experts, virtually all red foxes found in West Virginia today are a byproduct of the British introducing the European red fox.
The state also allows licensed hunters and trappers to take foxes during the annual hunting and trapping season. Additionally, many residents belong to the West Virginia Fox Chasers Association, which promotes fox hunting as a sport, helping to keep the red fox population under control.
Red foxes are endemic to Wisconsin, where there is a robust population of 200,000 thriving in urban and suburban areas as well as parks, woodland edges, and open fields. These incredible creatures demonstrate remarkable adaptability that allows them to survive in diverse habitats while also relying on their speed and agility when hunting prey. Red foxes have managed to successfully co-exist with humans for many years.
An overwhelming number of red foxes inhabit Wyoming, including in Jackson Hole, Yellowstone National Park, and the Beartooth Mountains. The actual population is unknown but believed to be comprised of thousands. Able to sustain themselves by consuming both plant and animal matter when food sources become scarce, red foxes serve an essential purpose within the ecosystem – controlling small mammal populations such as rodents and rabbits.
A Quick Look At Red Foxes
Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, red foxes are a prevailing species of fox that have adapted to almost every habitat out there from tundra regions in the Arctic Circle to tropical forests. Their coat is composed of reddish-brown fur with white underbellies, black on the legs and backs of the ears. In some regions, other color morphs can appear such as silver or black.
Known for its voracious appetite, the diet of the red fox consists of anything from small animals like rabbits and mice to birds, including poultry and game birds. These cunning creatures also scavenge for food such as human leftovers or animal carcasses in addition to fruits, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish – even plants! Omnivorous by nature, the red fox is an opportunistic feeder that will take advantage of whatever resources it finds available in any given geography.
Red foxes typically maintain a monogamous relationship for the duration of the mating season. Male foxes will court one vixen, helping to provide and care for her kits. Yet it isn’t unusual to observe male foxes attempting to woo more than one vixen during this period.
As part of the courtship process, red foxes partake in a variety of rituals prior to mating. The male and female may circle around one another or play with their tails while also flicking tongues at each other. Additionally, “jaw-locking” is quite common as both sexes grasp each other’s mouths and wrestle for dominance. During this time, it is not uncommon to hear a shrill barking sound from the male fox.
Once red fox kits are born, both parents help take care of the kits. They have an average litter size of four to six kits, which are born in early spring after a gestation period of about 53 days. Red foxes have one litter a year.
Subspecies of Red Fox
- Cascade red fox- a distinct subspecies of red fox that has been found in forests of the Cascade Range in northwestern North America. This species is distinguished from other subspecies by its smaller size, unique coloration, and unique habitat preferences. In recent years, populations of the Cascade red fox have been decreasing due to habitat degradation, disease, and anthropogenic pressure.
- Kodiak fox- endemic to the Alaskan island of Kodiak, the population of Kodiak foxes has been dramatically reduced due to human activity and predation from other animals. There are now an estimated 500-1000 individuals remaining in their natural habitat.
- Rocky Mountain red fox- typically found in alpine meadows, subalpine forests, and foothills up to elevations of 10,000 feet. The Rocky Mountain red fox has a shorter tail and is mainly found in states including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Washington, and Oregon.
- Sierra Nevada red fox- a subspecies of the larger red fox population that lives in isolated regions of California and Oregon. The species was listed as endangered in 1980 due to habitat loss and other threats. Since then, conservationists have been working diligently to bring the population back from the brink.
- Northern plains fox- this subspecies of red fox primarily inhabits the states in the Great Plains region of North America—including Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska. They have a unique coat of fur that is more yellowish-brown in color than the typical red fox.