Wednesday, June 04, 2008

CSI: Island Fox

What happens when an island fox is found dead?

A Critter Scene Investigation

Just like your favorite crime drama on TV, it takes a team of scientists to understand what has happened when an endangered island fox is found dead.

Determining the cause of death for an animal that has died is a critical component of island fox recovery. Radio collars worn by all released and wild-born foxes provide a unique signal when an animal is motionless for 12 hours. (more about radio collars)

When this signal is detected, field personnel locate the collar and collect the carcass if in fact the animal is deceased. Island fox carcasses are sent to Dr. Linda Munson at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where she and her staff perform necropsies (autopsies) to determine precisely what killed each animal.

Information from necropsies helped determine the direct association between the island foxes decline and predation by golden eagles on the Northern Channel Islands and disease on Santa Catalina Island.

Helping the island fox comes in a variety of forms. Necropsies continue to provide critical information on disease, health, and continuing predation issues. Each island fox necropsy requires several hours of veterinarian time and follow-up laboratory analysis, and costs approximately $250. Because this program is not otherwise funded, there is a growing need for help in funding this vital part of island fox conservation.

You can help a real CSI, a Critter Scene Investigation. Your donations to Friends of the Island Fox can help to fund important scientific work and island fox necropsies.

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