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Rare Fox Rebounds on Channel Islands

Posted on Jun, 20, 2013
Contributed to WCHV by WCHV

Island Fox

It was in 2000 when the population of fox dropped to an all-time low of just 70 animals on Santa Cruz Island. However, after 13 years, the rare and tiny island fox is on the verge of making a comeback from near-extinction in the northern Channel Islands, a rugged and wind-swept chain of islands off of Southern California coast as reported last month (May, 2013) by the Associated Press. The U.S. National Park Service estimates the number to be about 1,300 foxes now.
Populations of fox on nearby San Miguel and Santa Rosa islands have also bounced back into the hundreds after dropping in 1999 to just 15 of the cat-sized animals on each island. It is important to note that the island fox is only found on six of the Channel Islands, a chain of eight islands, five of which form a national park. Each of the six islands has its own unique fox subspecies known because of extensive genetic screening studies based on Yahoo News report.
In 1990s, a five-year period in fox populations decreased more than 90 percent on the islands due to an influx of golden eagles, which preyed on foxes and other small animals like feral pigs. The eagles were attracted by hundreds of feral pigs which were descendants those brought to the island years ago by ranchers.
In 2002, biologists on Santa Cruz Island trapped the few remaining mating fox pairs and kept them in captivity to try to boost their numbers and four of the six subspecies were listed as federally protected endangered species in 2004, but now biologists say they may soon come off the list.

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