Sunday, December 16, 2012

Island Fox Populations Recovering

photo courtesy of Kim Michaels,
What is the current status of the endangered Channel Island fox? In 2012 the Channel Island fox is robustly heading toward population recovery! Across all islands 90% of the population is surviving on an annual basis.

Every June biologists working with the endangered Channel Island fox come together to share information and update each other on the island foxes populating their island. June Meeting

The general consensus is that endangered populations on San Miguel, Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands are all headed toward or reaching levels of recovery. (Habitat) The Santa Rosa Island fox is now increasing in number, but still is at a much lower population number than before the predation crisis caused by golden eagles and habitat destruction.

Island foxes are counted annually across the California Channel Islands in the late summer and early fall.  Animals are captured in safe traps so they can be given health checks, fitted with radio collars and given vaccinations. Friends of the Island Fox financially supports these conservation efforts.

In 2012 FIF financially supported 14 radio monitoring collars and provided funding for vaccinations against the distemper virus for 450 island foxes.

The official population estimates from 2011 are:

  • San Miguel Island - 581 (up from 15 individuals in 2000)
  • Santa Rosa Island - 449 (up from 15 individuals in 2000)
  • Santa Cruz Island - 1302 (up from ~80 in 2000)
  • Santa Catalina Island - 1542 (up from ~103 in 2000)
  • San Nicolas Island - ~500
  • San Clemente Island - 795
numbers represent the Santa Rosa Island population (pink line)

The recovery of the endangered Channel Island fox is one of the fasted recoveries of an endangered species in North American history. The populations on San Miguel and Santa Catalina Islands have surpassed historically recorded numbers and this year the slight drop in population on Santa Cruz Island was seen as a stabilization of a population that has reached the island’s carrying capacity.

This year the Island Fox Working Group discussed the process for delisting the island fox from the Endangered Species List. Continued monitoring to assure the populations are stable is vital to this process. You can play an important role by helping support island fox monitoring.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Education and the Channel Island Fox

photo courtesy of Inge Rose
You can’t care about an animal and its ecosystem if you don’t know about it.

This year Friends of the Island Fox programs reached:
  • Over 1,200 students in classrooms across Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.
  • Our volunteers provided “Fox Talk” presentations to over 1,500 children and adults in community groups, nature centers, state parks and at Channel Islands National Park.

Understanding the importance of this small little fox as a keystone predator on the islands has inspired students and people across the country to help fund island fox conservation.

Education is one of our primary goals and your donations to Friends of the Island Fox make it possible for us to provide education programs.

Each classroom offers the opportunity to teach our next generation about the native plants and animals that are their neighbors. Local wildlife depends on human neighbors that respect and value the environment. 

FIF also grew its participation in continuing adult education through our relationship with Road Scholar. Our programs on the Channel Island fox have become an important part of Road Scholar’s adventures to Coastal California and Channel Islands National Park.

photo courtesy of Paul Bronstein
This holiday you can give the gift of education by supporting Friends of the Island Fox in someone’s honor.