Friday, December 23, 2011

Channel Island Fox Heroes

courtesy National Park Service
 Many plants and animals across the country are facing challenges to their survival, but few endangered species have as many everyday heroes as the Channel Island fox.

Some heroes are the biologists and technicians that work in the field across the six Channel Islands. They count the island foxes in the wild, provide health checks and are the first line of defense protecting island foxes. Fox Biologists.

Some heroes are school children like Hannah H. and her third grade class from Montecito Union Elementary School. Hannah told her school mates about the endangered island fox and made a Fox Box to collect donations. The students from Montecito Union raised enough funds to provide a radio tracking collar for a wild island fox. Radio collars provide the second line of defense for this endangered species. (More About Radio Collars) The goal across the islands is to annually have 60-70 individual foxes on each island wearing radio collars.

Vaccinations for distemper and rabies are also vital to protecting endangered island foxes.  When Friends of the Island Fox gave presentations to the second- and third-grade students at Poinsettia Elementary School, student Shawn D. realized he could make a positive difference for this local animal. Shawn saved up his allowance to vaccinate an island fox. Vaccinations for island foxes.

2011 has been filled with heroes:

A huge thank you to all of our Channel Island Fox Heroes. This year you helped the endangered island fox move ever closer to recovery. (Current Population Update)

Island fox pairs are coming together across the islands. Follow Tani, the young female island fox, on twitter or facebook as she settles into her own territory and finds a mate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Island Fox Population Update

courtesy of Anita Machlis
Every year biologists count island foxes across the California Channel Islands in the late summer and early fall. Island foxes are captured in safe traps so they can be given health checks, fitted with radio collars and given vaccinations. When the biologist from the six different islands meet for the annual Island Fox Conference in June, they share their official population numbers and discuss the successes and challenges from each island.

The official population estimates from 2010 are:
  • San Miguel Island - 516
  • Santa Rosa Island - 292
  • Santa Cruz Island - 1302
  • Santa Catalina Island - 1008
  • San Nicolas Island - ~500
  • San Clemente Island - 1127

The numbers show that island fox recovery has been very robust on San Miguel, Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands. The island foxes on Santa Rosa Island are recovering, but at a much slower rate. Each island fox population has its own challenges. For the current status of island foxes by island Download - Island Fox Update 2011 pdf

Stay tuned for updates on 2011 population numbers as they come in from the autumn field counts. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

A Radio Collar for Tani, the Island Fox!

photo courtesy of Kevin Schafer
Across the Channel Islands young island foxes are striking out on their own. They have spent the summer playing with their siblings and growing up. Their parents have taught them to hunt and find native fruit. Island fox food. Now, it is time for them to search out their own territory.

Tani, the young island fox that we have been following on Twitter, has left her parents and faced some challenges. Tani. A few days ago she tangled with another adult island fox female and was injured. Island foxes depend on the resources in their territory and they will protect their territory from other island foxes. Tani was lucky to only be injured on her ear, but the infection she suffered left her weak and vulnerable. Fortunately, on the Channel Islands biologists in the field are able to provide some medical care to wild island foxes. (Channel Islands National Park, Santa Catalina Island and the U.S. Navy islands)

When Tani received medical treatment she also was fitted with a radio collar to track her movements. The radio collar will provide information on how far she travels from her parents home range and enable biologists to understand where a young fox establishes its own territory. 

Across the islands young island foxes face challenges surviving without their parents. In the past two months several young island foxes have been hit by cars on Santa Catalina Island. Territory along roads can be attractive, but inexperienced youngsters don't know how to avoid cars. Support Watch for Foxes Signs.

This autumn Friends of the Island Fox funded our 72nd radio collar to track island foxes on the Channel Islands. Radio collars provide information on island fox movements and also alert biologists when an island fox has died. If the animal stops moving for a 6-8 hours, the collar gives off a special mortality signal. With the aid of the radio collar, biologists can locate the island fox's body and determine if the animals death marks a potential threat to other island foxes. Response to introduced disease and unexpected predation by golden eagles can happen rapidly when biologists have specific information from animals in the field. Radio collars on island foxes have helped the endangered populations on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands to make unprecedented recoveries.

photo courtesy of Kevin Pease
Tani is wearing her new radio collar and hopefully it will help biologists track her recovery and her activities as she becomes an adult island fox and establishes her own territory.

Follow Tani on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Island Foxes Say Thank You

Across the Channel Islands endangered island foxes are successfully making a come back from the brink of extinction. You and your friends and neighbors are helping to make a positive difference. Friends of the Island Fox extends our thanks to the following special friends that have made extra efforts on behalf of endangered island foxes.

This summer Native Foods Cafe raised funds for the island fox during a day of business. Their event raised $500 for island fox conservation.

In May, Island Fox Program Director Pat Meyer and Keri Dearborn, Education Director, were interviewed on Cynthia Fox's Sunday morning show "Spotlight on the Community" on KLOS Radio. Listen to the Interview. Cynthia Fox continued her support by sponsoring a fox radio-tracking collar.

This summer private donors supported another radio-tracking collar to bring our total number of collars funded to 72!

Because of your support and concern this local endangered species is recovering. Your involvement on behalf of the island fox is allowing images like the one below to be natural once again. Watch as an island fox ventures into a bald eagle nest at night looking for tidbits of food that the bald eagle chick has dropped. This is a brave little island fox, notice the bald eagle chick (bigger than the island fox) sleeping in the lower right corner. 

Island foxes across the Channel Islands thank all of you who care and are taking action to support health checks and vaccinations, radio collars and education to make a positive difference on their behalf.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Science and the Island Fox

Get ready to explore, discover and be a scientist. On Oct. 1, 2011 Friends of the Island Fox will join our friends the Santa Barbara Zoo in a day of science fun.

Science Day at the Santa Barbara Zoo
Saturday Oct. 1, 2011
10 AM - 3PM

Included in the price of admission, there will be family friendly activities that focus on science learning. Teachers are encouraged to come and discover activities that meet California state science standards and can be replicated in the classroom. Admission for teachers and their families is FREE with preregistration. Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo website for more information.

Friends of the Island will be exploring the Channel Island fox’s great sense of smell. Why does an island fox nose work better than a human nose? Could you find your way home using only your nose?

Tani, the juvenile island fox, has a brother called Acorn that went exploring. He had to find his way back to the family den using his sense of smell. Follow the adventures of island fox pups born this spring on Facebook and twitter.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Zoos Helping Island Foxes

wild island fox wearing radio collar funded by Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Zoos of the 21st century are active partners in conservation. Friends of the Island Fox salutes our Zoo friends.

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo has awarded a conservation grant to Friends of the Island Fox for 5 years in a row. They have sponsored 20 radio collars to monitor island foxes in the wild! These radio collars are vital to maintaining a healthy wild population and demonstrate the role modern zoos play in supporting conservation efforts to preserve and restore healthy wild ecosystems. Thank you to the keepers and staff of Fresno Chaffee Zoo for being true island fox friends. Visit the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is home to four island foxes, three San Clemente island foxes born in captivity and a Santa Rosa island fox with a chronic health condition. The keepers and staff of the Santa Barbara Zoo wrote the book on keeping captive island foxes healthy and on successfully breeding them. When island foxes became endangered in the wild (the crisis years - northern islands, Catalina Island), the knowledge gathered at the Santa Barbara Zoo helped to establish successful captive breeding programs on four islands. Zoo veterinarians have also provided vital healthcare to wild island foxes. The Santa Barbara Zoo is home to Finnigan, the education island fox, helping to bring the story of this endangered species to thousands of local people every year. Thank you to the keepers and staff of the Santa Barbara Zoo for being true island fox friends. Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Size of golden eagle presented at AZAD Conference
The docents of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens have made educating the local community about the endangered island fox a priority mission. This September they carried their education outreach back to Memphis, Tennessee to the national conference of the Association of Zoo and Aquarium Docents. The success of island fox recovery depends on active partnership between scientists, conservation organizations, government agencies and an educated local community. The Friends of the Island Fox grew out of the docent program at the Los Angeles Zoo and these dedicated volunteers continue to be some of our greatest supporters. (Annual Earth Day event) Thank you to the docents of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens for being true island fox friends. Visit the Los Angeles Zoo.    Become a docent.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Island Foxes Face Off Disease

Tani represents all of the juvenile island foxes that were born this spring (A special Island fox is Born).  As summer turns to autumn these young island foxes will venture off from their parents to begin their own lives. But before they do, they just might have a close encounter of the human kind.

Across the California Channel Islands biologists are catching island foxes in capture cages to count their numbers, replace and outfit radio tracking collars, and conduct annual health checks.

For young island foxes that means a microchip that will identify them for life. It may also mean vaccinations for canine diseases - rabies and distemper. Both of these diseases have a high mortality rate, meaning that most wild island foxes would die if they encountered them. We know this is true because the Santa Catalina Island population of island foxes declined by over 88% between 1998 and 2000 when distemper was introduced to the island. (More about Catalina Island).
Pet dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated can introduce disease to wild populations. Island species like the island fox are especially vulnerable because they have not evolved with the same diseases that animals may be exposed to on the mainland. Wild animals from the mainland can also introduce disease to island populations (see Raccoon on Catalina).

The land managers across the islands hope to vaccinate at least 60-80 island foxes on each island this autumn. The minimum (60 foxes on 6 islands) would be a total of 360 island foxes with a cost of $10 per fox. Just providing minimal disease protection to this endangered species comes with a minimum cost of $3,600. 

You can help provide a young island fox heading out into the world with a better chance of survival by supporting vaccination costs. A donation of $10 will protect an island fox from rabies and distemper. 

You can also make a positive difference by reminding friends and family that vaccinating pet dogs and cats helps protect wild animals. Disease has no sympathy, it can attack an endangered species or a beloved pet. To keep both safe, pets should stay home and leave wild animals to live in their native habitats.

See more of Tani's adventures on Facebook and @ifoxtweet on Twitter.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Microchips for Island Foxes

Biologists capture island foxes annually to count them and to evaluate the health of individuals and the population as a whole. Because not every island fox is captured each year during the annual trapping, those that are caught provide a representative snapshot of the general health of each islands' fox population.

The first time that an island fox experiences an annual health check it receives a microchip so that it will be identifiable as an individual for the rest of its life. The microchip or PIT (passive integrated transponder) tag is inserted under the skin between the shoulders using needle and syringe. When a young island fox, like Tani, receives a microchip it means that the story of her life will be documented from a young age through adulthood. If she is caught again next year, biologists will be able to determine how far she has moved from her parent's territory.

Looking at the data that has been collected on the recapture of island foxes over the years, biologists see a pattern of young male island foxes traveling a great distance from the area where they were born. While female pups tend to stay in areas adjacent to their parents. The first year of an island fox's life can be perilous as they head out on their own into unknown areas.

Microchips also allow the identification of individual island foxes if something happens to them. In the past month, two young island foxes have been hit by cars along roads on Catalina Island. Watch for Foxes.

Radio tracking collars help to monitor the movements and health of island foxes, but not every island fox will receive a $250 radio collar. Every island fox that is captured for the first time during annual counting and health checks does receive an identification microchip. You can help support an island fox Health Check for just $25.

As island foxes continue their successful recovery from near extinction, monitoring their populations takes on greater importance. Through your donation to Friends of the Island Fox you can help support the recovery of the endangered island fox.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Do You Count Island Foxes?

Across the Channel Islands biologists are setting special enclosure traps to catch island foxes. Each year at the end of summer traps are set-up along specific trails or grids and left open over night. In the evening hours curious or hungry island foxes find their way into the wire mesh traps.

courtesy of Channel Islands National Park
This is how island foxes are counted on each of the Channel Islands. Late summer or early fall is the best season to capture the small foxes because it is late enough in the season that fox pups are no longer nursing and early enough that adult island foxes are not yet preparing to breed for the next batch of offspring.

Before sunrise field biologists head out to check each trap. Frequently if an island fox pup is caught in the cage, biologists report that the parents may be close by, keeping an eye on their youngster. And often island fox parents will leave food, like a dead mouse or two, in front of the cage. This behavior is call "provisioning." Even though the island fox pup is caught in the capture cage, the parents will continue to try and take care of it.

The island fox pup that has been sharing its adventures on Twitter is about to experience an annual Health Check. (See the Twitter box to the right or follow Tani's adventures on FaceBook)

For MORE on an island fox's annual Health Check, LISTEN to biologist Julie King from the Catalina Island Conservancy as she does a health check on an island fox in the wild.

Follow us on @ifoxtweet on Twitter as an island fox pup grows up.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Island Fox Pups Grow Up

courtesy of NPS volunteer Inge Rose
During the warm days of summer, island fox pups grow up fast. Through rough and tumble play with their siblings, they learn to stalk and pounce. Small paws pin a sister or brother to the ground. They practice grabbing hold with their sharp little teeth and shaking. All of these behaviors are important skills for hunting.

Stalking and pouncing are the actions used by island foxes to catch island deer mice, birds, lizards and snakes, and even some insects, like grasshoppers. Island fox catches a snake.

Digging with agile, clawed paws enables island foxes to catch Jerusalem crickets and beetles. Insects are probably the first prey that most island fox pups hunt on their own. (See the Twitter adventures of Tani, a young island fox grows up, in the right side panel.)

Both parents help to teach the island fox pups where and how to find the variety of food they will need to survive on the rugged Channel Islands. As summer continues, fruit will ripen on a variety of native plants, bringing new food opportunities to the growing island foxes.

Link to a video of island fox pups on Catalina Island sent to FIF by an island fox friend. Watch for the three pups, just like in Tani's family.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Native Foods Cafe Helps Island Foxes

Thank you Native Foods Cafe !

Today, Tuesday June 12, Native Foods Cafe restaurants in California are donating a percentage of their profits to island fox conservation. It is all part of their effort to give back to the local community and support animal conservation efforts.

If you are looking for a new dining experience at a trend-setting vegan restaurant, try one of the Native Foods Cafes in Westwood, Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Culver City, Palm Desert, Palm Springs or Tustin. You'll have a great time and support efforts to save endangered island foxes. Link to Locations

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Island Fox on the Radio

photo courtesy of Paul Bronstein
Pat Meyer and Keri Dearborn from Friends of the Island Fox recently did an interview with KLOS Radio personality Cynthia Fox.

Cynthia Fox hosts "Spotlight on the Community" Sunday mornings on KLOS. Listen in for great mix of rock music and community involvement.

Listen to the podcast of the interview via the links below:
Part 1 - How the Island Fox became an Endangered Species

Part 2 - Where do Island Foxes Live ? and Recovery Efforts
Part 3 - Restoring Natural Balance to CA Channel Islands
Part 4 - Education Outreach Programs for Schools and Community Groups

Each segment is approximately 10 minutes.

Friends of the Island Fox thanks Cynthia Fox and KLOS for shining a Spotlight on the endangered island fox. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Island Fox and the Jerusalem Cricket

Island fox pups on the Channel Islands are now about 6 weeks old and about to emerge from the family den. Friends of the Island Fox's Twitter fox, Tani, is learning what to eat. Both the mother and father island fox bring food to their pups. Follow Tani's tweets in the black Twitter box on the right.

Island foxes are omnivorous, they eat both plant food and other animals. Insects are fairly easy to find and they are an important part of an island fox's diet. Jerusalem crickets are a favorite food for island foxes. This large insect can be found in the soil under native plants and it provides a protein-rich meal. Jerusalem crickets are also known as earth babies, nin├Ás de la tierra or potato bugs (but they don't eat potatoes).
Jerusalem cricket
The island fox, the Catalina cherry and the Jerusalem cricket all depend on each other. The island fox eats the Jerusalem cricket, but it also eats the fruit of the Catalina cherry. The seeds of this plant are too big for the finches and small birds to swallow. But the island fox does swallow some of the seeds and helps to disperse the cherry seeds across the island so new plants can grow. Fox Scat The Jerusalem cricket lives under the Catalina cherry plant and eats some of its roots and dead leaves on the ground. It is a decomposer helping create healthy soil where new plants can grow. The island fox, the Catalina cherry and the Jerusalem cricket are just a small part of the interconnected web of plants and animals on the Channel Islands.

The island fox has evolved to have very pointed teeth so it can pick up small insects. The teeth act like tweezers carefully picking up grasshoppers and crickets, while leaving twigs and leaves behind.

Island foxes also eat the native island deer mice, some small birds and their eggs. As summer comes to the island, fruit will start to play an important role in the what the foxes eat.

Follow along with Tani on Twitter or on Facebook as an island fox grows up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Island Foxes on KLOS FM Radio

Hear Friends of the Island Fox on
Cynthia Fox's "Spotlight on the Community" 
on KLOS Radio, 95.5 FM!

Pat Meyer, Friends of the Island Fox Program Director, and Keri Dearborn, Education Director, will be on Cynthia Fox's Sunday morning program this weekend, May 28th from 6-7 AM. 

Link to KLOS "Spotlight on the Community PodCasts".

With community education and participation in conservation efforts we are saving the island fox.

For more information on school programs (K-college) contact Pat at or (805) 228-4123. To be added to the FIF teacher contact list for program information in the fall - email: (subject line: teacher)

Photos of island foxes
Video of island foxes
Video - island fox meets bald eagle
Fox Talk Podcasts

Monday, May 23, 2011

Island Fox Ambassadors - Canalino Elementary School

Pat Meyer and Canalino Elementary 4th grade students

What can you do with popcorn and hot chocolate?  Help save the endangered island fox!

Fourth grade students at Canalino Elementary School in Carpinteria, California have become Island Fox Ambassadors. They made posters to increase awareness about the endangered island fox and they raised funds by selling popcorn and hot chocolate at a school movie night.

The fourth grade students learned about the island fox through their teachers and a presentation by Friends of the Island Fox educators. (For information on Island Fox classroom programs call 805 228-4123 or e-mail

Working together the Canalino students raised a large enough donation to support a radio tracking collar for an island fox. Radio tracking collars are vital to monitoring island fox welfare across the Channel Islands. More on GPS collars.

The “Canalino collar” marks radio collar #65 supported by generous donations to Friends of the Island Fox. Part of the island fox’s rapid recovery from the brink of extinction is due to the partnership between scientists, conservationists and the public.

Friends of the Island Fox proudly adds the fourth grade students of Canalino Elementary School to our list of Island Fox Ambassadors.

The island fox is a California treasure and it needs devoted conservation ambassadors like these students to safeguard its survival into the future.

You can make a positive difference too, by supporting island fox conservation through the donation button at the top of the page.

To learn more about island foxes

Follow the adventures of Tani, an island fox on Twitter
@ ifoxtweet, see box to the right, or Find us on Facebook. May 24th will mark a landmark day for this island fox pup. You won’t want to miss it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Island Fox and the IUCN

photo courtesy of Kevin Schafer
The island fox has an important friend – the IUCN.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) was established in England in 1948 to promote scientifically based conservation efforts on behalf of wild species. The IUCN has a Red List of species around the world that are threatened and specific categories for their survival status: Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, or Least Concern.

The IUCN has joined with an established fox friend to highlight “Amazing Species” on the IUCN’s Red List website. See more island fox images on

Recently the island fox was featured as one of these “Amazing Species” - IUCN RedList Amazing Species. The downloadable pdf on the island fox features a photo by another island fox friend, wildlife photographer Kevin Schafer (

island fox photos by Kevin Schafer:

The IUCN lists the island fox as critically endangered. Despite increases in population over the last three years, island foxes have a very limited range and are extremely vulnerable to habitat destruction or introduced disease.

Island species in general are highly vulnerable to extinction because they have limited natural populations and home ranges. Typically island species can not relocate in the face of environmental change. Climate change poses specific threats to island species: rising water levels, changes in temperature and rainfall, fire as a result of drought (fire on Catalina Island), heightened disease threats from insect- or virus-borne pathogens.

How can you help the island fox and other endangered species? Pass on information about these creatures and remind people that saving resources and reducing our carbon footprint helps everyone. 

Monday, May 09, 2011

Raccoon Spotted on Catalina

The Catalina Island Conservancy reports that a raccoon was spotted in the Two Harbors Campground on Catalina Island. Despite a rapid response setting up capture cages, the raccoon has not been apprehended. This raccoon poses a serious threat to island foxes and other endemic island species.

Raccoons are not native to the California Channel Islands and they are now believed to have been the source of the distemper virus that killed over 88% of the Catalina Island foxes between 1998 and 2000.
More on the threat posed by raccoons.

For information on what to do if you see a raccoon on a boat: Raccoon Awareness Flyer

If you should see the raccoon on Catalina Island please contact the Catalina Island Conservancy. For the safety of the island fox and other island species it is imperative that this raccoon is apprehended as soon as possible.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bald Eagles and Island Foxes

Tani is learning about the bald eagles on the Channel Islands and you can too. 
photo courtesy of Peter Sharp, IWS
Bald eagles went extinct on the Channel Islands following the use of DDT in Southern California. While this chemical insecticide successfully killed insects around homes and on agricultural crops, it stayed in the environment. The chemical ingredients of DDT take many years to disappear or degrade. They were washed from fields and cities into streams, rivers and eventually the ocean. 

When small animals ate the chemicals, they were in turn eaten by larger animals. Seafloor worms were eaten by fish, and the fish were eaten by the bald eagle and the brown pelican. The chemicals accumulated in top predators like theses large birds. The DDT didn't kill the eagles directly, it caused them to be unable to lay eggs with hard shells. When the mother eagle sat on her eggs they cracked. No eaglets were born and the bald eagles disappeared completely from the Channel Islands.

Today DDT is no longer legally used in the United States. Part of the effort to return the Channel Islands to their natural state was to relocate young bald eagles to Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands. These reintroduced bald eagles have grown-up. They are doing well and reproducing.

You can watch the bald eagles live as they raise their chicks through the on-line EAGLECAM

As of May 1, 2011 the chicks are small gray fluffs in the nest.  They are growing up just as the island fox pups are growing up.

Watch a video from the EAGLECAM where an island fox visits the bald eagle nest.

Follow Tani's adventures as an island fox grows up on Twitter or Facebook.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Follow An Island Fox on TWITTER

Friends of the Island Fox announces the birth of Tani, a special island fox pup on Santa Cruz Island. More on Santa Cruz Island.

This island fox pup will have a voice through Friends of the Island Fox. You'll be able to follow Tani's adventures on Twitter at @ifoxtweet. See the Twitter box in the right hand column below the island fox picture or follow on the Friends of the Island Fox FaceBook page.  

Over the next year this island fox will tweet her experiences as she grows up and explores her island home.

Today Tani and her brother and sister were born in a hillside den. They are each about the size of two AA batteries. Sleep and food are their primary interests and their world revolves around their mother.

Follow @ifoxtweet on Twitter as an island fox grows up.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Is the Time for Island Fox Pups

Spring is blooming across the Channel Islands. The mountain morning glory unfurls its white flowers tinged in pink.

In protective dens across the islands, female island foxes are giving birth to their litters of pups. The green hillsides with their flowers hint that the rainfall has been good this year. If the plants are healthy they will produce abundant fruit this summer. The Catalina cherry, toyon and prickly pear cactus are all important food sources for the island fox. Island fox food. If the plants grow well, the animals that depend on them will do well too.

Last year the drought impacted island foxes. Fewer pups were born and many were underweight. This year we are hoping for healthy island fox pups. Typically island foxes have 2 pups, but if there is abundant food they can have up to 5 pups.

Representatives from Friends of the Island Fox were out on Santa Cruz Island last week. More on Santa Cruz Island. The hillsides were green and the Catalina cherry trees were covered in blooms. We’re looking for a special island fox pup to be born that will be communicating out to the world about its daily life as it grows up.

This exciting birth is just around the corner. We hope that by sharing the daily adventures of this little island fox via Twitter, people around the world will have a better understanding of the challenges the island fox faces living on an island and being an endangered species. (Link to video - island fox encounters bald eagle chick)

Are you ready to follow an island fox pup as it grows up?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Island Fox Happenings

April is a busy time for island foxes and Friends of the Island Fox

Out on the islands female foxes are searching for the perfect den site in between rocks or under vegetation. They are looking for just the right spot because April is the month that many island fox pups are born. (more on island fox pups)  Keep checking back to for a birth announcement mid-April. We're waiting for a special island fox to be born and you'll get to follow along as it grows up via Twitter.

Friends of the Island Fox will also be helping to...
Celebrate California Wildlife 
at the  
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden
Earth Day Expo 
on Saturday and Sunday, April 9th and 10th
from 10 AM - 4 PM

Come by and visit us and the Zoo's live island fox. There will be Fox Talks at the island fox exhibit at 12 PM and 2:30 PM. We will also be doing radio tracking demonstrations throughout the day. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Road Signs to Save Island Foxes

courtesy of Kevin Pease
Over the Holiday Season important donations came in to fund three “Watch for Foxes” road signs.  In the past few years cars have become the most common cause of death for island foxes. While the northern islands have few cars operated only by National Park and Nature Conservancy officials, Santa Catalina has a number of roads and a variety of people driving on them. The two Navy islands, San Clemente and San Nicolas, also have roads with fast-moving vehicles.

This autumn several island foxes lost their lives on Santa Catalina Island along the road from the airport into Avalon. These “Watch for Foxes” signs will help remind drivers to slow down and be especially vigilant when driving this section of road.

Because of the island fox’s small size, it can be hard to see before it darts onto a road. The fox’s mottled gray coloring with tinges of russet, provide amazing camouflage in island chaparral and grass.  Especially at twilight, even careful drivers can sometimes accidentally strike an island fox crossing the road. While female island foxes usually stay near their parent’s territory, young males may travel great distances looking for territories of their own. These adventuring teenage boys tend to be inexperienced and many have their lives cut short along dangerous roadsides.

Accidents can happen. Drivers on Santa Catalina, San Nicolas and San Clemente are reminded that it is important to report incidents where island foxes are believed to be hit by cars. Injured animals can not be helped if accidents are not reported and the body of an animal killed by a car may provide important medical information if the carcass is collected in a timely manner.

Hopefully with the new “Watch for Foxes” signs funded by donations to Friends of the Island Fox this Holiday Season, island foxes will be safer along island roads this spring. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fox Radio Collars Help Determine Effects of Motorcycle Race

Female island fox wearing her new GPS collar
We often talk about how radio-tracking collars on endangered island foxes provide an important early warning sign of disease or unnatural predators on the Channel Islands. Importance of radio collars

In December, radio tracking collars and special GPS tracking collars provided important information on island fox locations and activity during the Catalina Grand Prix motorcycle event.

Catalina Island Conservancy biologists were able to determine the location of island foxes near the race event, track fox activity during the event and determine that no foxes were directly injured by motorcyclists. At the end of January, the island foxes with GPS collars will be captured again so that detailed information can be downloaded from their GPS collars. These high-tech collars record location data every 75 minutes. By putting these special collars on a group of island foxes before the motorcycle race, movement behavior was documented prior to the race, during the race event and for several weeks following the event.

When the full data is collected and analyzed the biologists will be able to determine if the race changed the animals’ behavior and how long it took for the foxes to return to their normal movement patterns.

This is a great example of how technology can help us make better choices in our interactions with wildlife, especially endangered species like island foxes.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Friends of the Island Fox Joins Channel Islands Park Foundation

As we venture into 2011 Friends of the Island Fox is joining with the Channel Islands Park Foundation, the non-profit foundation that supports Channel Islands National Park

This new relationship will expand our ability to educate the local community about the endangered island fox and its connection with the Channel Island ecosystem. School programs will continue and grow to include additional island topics. We will continue to support conservation efforts and research across all six of the California islands that are home to the island fox. 

As we begin this New Year we thank all of the our island fox friends who have helped us fund our end-of-the-year conservation goals:
  • a total of 60 radio tracking collars for island foxes
  • several new "Watch for Foxes" road signs
  • support for annual rabies and distemper vaccinations
Your donations will continue to work directly for island fox conservation. Please note that when you use the "Donation" buttons at the upper right, donations will be processed through the Channel Islands Park Foundation but will be designated for the Friends of the Island Fox program.