Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Update on a Special Island Fox

May 2007 a wild fire swept over a large area of Santa Catalina Island (Helping Island Foxes In Fire Area). After the fire, a female island fox was found with severe burns on her four paws. Her fur was singed and sooty. Diligent care provided by the Catalina Island Conservancy allowed the little fox to recover and she was released July 11, 2007 wearing a radio collar funded by donations to Friends of the Island Fox.

In November of 2007, “Burnie Boots,” as she has been nicknamed, was captured during island-wide fox health checks and she appeared to be doing well. Her feet had recovered fully. The only sign of her previous injury is that two of her toe pads are fused together. This fusing of the tissue happened during the healing process.

Boots’ radio collar transmits a specific radio frequency that allows biologists to hone in on her location and check on her movements, even if they can not physically see her. As long as the little fox continues to actively move around, her radio collar transmits a constant signal. If something should happen to Boots and she should stop being active, the radio collar would send out a distinctive distress signal.

As July 2008 approached, Boots’ battery-powered collar was in need of replacement. Using the radio collar signal, the Catalina biologists were able to set a trap specifically in the area where Boots was living. They captured her and, as the photo shows, her fur has completely recovered. The biologists replaced Boots' radio collar, checked her health and found a happy surprise. Not only had Boots recovered from last year’s burns, she showed signs of nursing pups. This spring the little fox saved from the fire became a mother. Her pups are helping to increase the Catalina Island fox population.

Burnie Boots’ success story is the result of many people working together to help the endangered island fox. The Catalina Island Conservancy manages the daily needs of this specific subspecies of island fox. Donations raised through Friends of the Island Fox by students in the Fox Ambassador Program and from concerned private individuals provided Boots with both of her radio collars.

Saving this endangered species requires community awareness and involvement. You can make a difference and help save the Channel island fox.

Donations to Friends of the Island Fox are used directly toward island fox conservation efforts and public education. You can donate directly to Friends of the Island Fox through our PayPal button at the top right corner or by check to:

Friends of the Island Fox
3760 Groves Place, Somis CA 93066

(805) 386-0386

Your school, class or youth group can become Island Fox Ambassadors

For questions about school presentations and the Fox Ambassador Program contact us at

Listen to a fox health check in progress.