Friday, August 31, 2012

Foxy Ladies Help Island Foxes

Why is that Channel Island fox in a cage?

Each year in late summer / early autumn, island foxes are caught in safe capture cages so that their numbers can be counted. This also allows the biologists on the six islands, where the island foxes live, to check the health of individual foxes, replace old radio tracking collars and to vaccinate the island foxes against disease.

Canine distemper virus and rabies pose a serious threat to the endangered Channel Island fox. Distemper virus nearly caused the extinction of the Santa Catalina Island fox between 1994 and 2000. The population crashed from 1,342 individuals to 165.

The four endangered subspecies of island foxes on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands are successfully recovering and the job of protecting them from disease is a priority. Island foxes have territories that overlap. Recent studies modeling how distemper travels through island fox populations conclude that the best way to protect a viable percentage of island foxes in the event of distemper introduction is to vaccinate a minimum of 100 individuals. And since the vaccine’s protection against the disease only lasts one year, a minimum of 100 island foxes need to be vaccinated on each island annually.

This year Friends of the Island Fox set a goal of raising $2,000 to fund canine distemper vaccinations for 100 foxes on two of the four islands where they are an endangered species. ($10 vaccinates an island fox against canine distemper)

Rita Mays (left) and some of the El Segundo Ladies Golf Club's Foxy Ladies

In August 2012 The Foxy Ladies, the women of the El Segundo Ladies Golf Club, took a big swing at our goal. They held a Golf Tournament to raise funds for island fox vaccinations and they raised $1,600!

Thanks to Rita Mays, the tournament organizer, and her golf-playing
Foxy Ladies, 160 island foxes will be protected from canine distemper this year.

From golf tournaments to baseball games, to island trips, to lifelong learning programs for Road Scholar, our summer drive has surpassed our goal!

You helped us raise $2,960 for vaccinations ! 

Every $10 raised helps to protect an endangered island fox from this very contagious disease. This will protect 296 foxes. 

Can we make it 400? 

A 100 island foxes vaccinated on four islands? You can help make a difference by donating too.

Annual trapping is happening across the Channel Islands. Follow the story of island foxes Tani and Tiptu, and their pup Meymey, on Twitter and Facebook as they experience fall trapping and health checks.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Santa Cruz Island Wetland

Look closely for the small pond in front of the dead tree.
Can there be a wetland on a dry island? Yes.

Santa Cruz Island is the largest of the Southern California Channel Islands. The eastern side of the island is composed of porous volcanic rock. Rain water peculates through the rock and comes to the surface as springs in a few areas. One of these areas is at Prisoner's Harbor.

In the past couple of years the wetland at Prisoner's Harbor has been going through restoration. Landfill was removed so the springs were once again able to reach the surface and therefore become a resting spot for migratory birds. A dead tree or snag was left in place as a perching area. The rare island scrub-jay, insect eating black phoebes and a variety of birds are using this natural perch.

This spring native willows, grasses and even oaks were carefully planted. Brightly colored flags, mark the different vegetation areas that are delineated by elevation. Small variation in elevation means differing amounts of freshwater. 

Looking across the restored wetland toward the sea.
Wetlands are rapidly disappearing along the California coast. The restoration of this wetland helps not only the endangered island fox on Santa Cruz Island, but a wide range of species on this island.

This is the area of Santa Cruz Island where our facebook and Twitter island fox family lives along side an island scrub-jay family. Follow their adventures on-line or in the black box on the right edge of this page.