Recovery for 2 Near-Extinct Species of Island Foxes

Island Fox.  Source: Kevin Schaefer, via Friends of the Island Fox.

Island Fox. Source: Kevin Schaefer, via Friends of the Island Fox.

The Island Fox Conservation Working Group recommended this week that two of four endangered species of island foxes (Urocyon littoralis), found only on California’s Channel Islands, should be removed from the Endangered Species List.

As the population of bald eagles declined in the 1960s, golden eagles (Aquila chrusaetos) moved into the Channel Islands and quickly ravaged the island fox population, nearly wiping out four of the six subspecies.  Conservationists quickly gathered up the remaining foxes for an emergency captive breeding program.  Meanwhile, the National Park Service relocated the golden eagles, worked at controlling the feral goats and pigs (also threats to the foxes) which were overrunning the islands and established vaccination programs against canine distemper.

As a result of these efforts, the San Miguel Island Fox (U.l. littoralis) population has risen from 15 individuals in 2000 to approximately 577 today.  The Santa Cruz fox (U.l. santacruzae) population has grown from 80 animals to 1,100.

Original article available here.

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