Thursday, May 03, 2012

Protecting Island Foxes from Canine Distemper Virus

Island Foxes need your Help! As the endangered populations of Channel Island foxes on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands reach recovery levels, a threat to their survival looms–the introduction of disease.

In the late 1990s canine distemper virus almost wiped out the island foxes on Santa Catalina Island. This virus is related to the measles virus that impacts people and, like that disease vaccination, is the the best protection against it. Pet dogs are vaccinated against canine distemper virus because it is highly contagious and easily transferred from one animal to another either directly or indirectly. There is no known cure for distemper and it is lethal to a high percentage of animals that become infected. Other mammals can be impacted by distemper viruses as well–sea lions, most wild members of the dog family, lions, raccoons. It was a raccoon from the mainland that transported the deadly canine distemper virus to Catalina Island.
Canine distemper is in the news again. As of April 2012, canine distemper virus caused the death of a number of kit foxes in the Mojave Desert in conjunction with an area being developed for solar energy.

People provide pathways for disease to find its way to isolated locations, like the desert and the Channel Islands. The threat of canine distemper virus reoccurring on the Channel Islands is high. To protect Channel Island foxes it is vital that at least 100 island foxes are vaccinated each year on each island.

Island foxes can be easily vaccinated during the late summer population count and health checks. But each vaccination has a cost. The vaccination shot alone costs $10 per island fox.

Help us vaccinate 200 island foxes this Fall.

Friends of the Island Fox is trying to raise $2,000 to vaccinate 200 island foxes. You can play an important role in protecting the rare Channel Island fox. Every $10 dollars helps protect the future for island foxes.