Sunday, November 25, 2018

Island Fox M152 Has a Health Check

When M152 was fitted with his refurbished radio collar, he also received a health check.

During the health check he wore a special hood. Having his eyes covered makes the health check less stressful and helps the island fox remain calm.

M152 was:
Weighed - to compare his weight with previous years and to provide an overall view of the population across the island. How much did M152 weigh?

Blood Sample - A sample of his blood was taken to look for evidence of exposure to disease. In 2016-2017 blood samples documented adenovirus, commonly called "kennel cough," as it moved across Catalina Island infecting 85% of the island fox population. (See 2018 Update) Fortunately, no island fox deaths were attributed to the virus, but it demonstrated how fast an infectious disease can spread through island foxes. Testing blood samples provides an early warning of dangerous diseases like canine distemper, parvo, and more. It can also indicate whether disease might be influencing low pup survival. Some of M152's blood was also set aside to test for specific white blood cells. A high number of these cells may be evidence of a parasite infection. Some of the blood sample will also be used for DNA studies to determine the familial relationships between individual foxes. How are the pups in M152's territory related to him? All of this is above and beyond simple monitoring. 
Your donations help make this health research possible.

Disease - M152 showed no signs of disease. He appeared healthy.

M152 courtesy of Channel Islands National Park
Whisker Sample - A whisker sample was taken for an important research study on diet funded by Friends of the Island Fox.

Tick Testing - M152 was examined for fleas and ticks. Luckily he was tick free! But not all island foxes are so lucky. 
small red dot is a tick on the fox's ear

Tick-borne disease is a new threat to island foxes. Two infectious diseases carried by ticks have recently been discovered on the Channel Islands: Lyme disease and relapsing fever. Ticks found on island foxes, like the one on the back of an island fox's ear, pictured at right, are being removed and tested for disease. This is important research for island foxes and people. 

How many ticks are carrying disease? How many island foxes are infected? Lyme disease seriously impacts dogs; is it impacting island foxes? The tick is removed and tested to see if it is a disease carrier.
Tick after removal and prepared for testing.
Tick-borne disease is a new threat.
We need your help to fund testing of ticks.  

Removing the tick is also beneficial to the island fox.
Island fox ear after tick is removed.

Island foxes need your help. 

Friends of the Island Fox funds radio collars
proactive health testing, and vital research

With your continued support, we can hold onto success and keep island foxes like M152 healthy into the future. 
Please donate today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Island Fox M152 Has a History

Island Fox M152
Each island fox counted across the Channel Islands during summer/fall monitoring is a documented individual. They each receive a microchip tag (or PIT tag) like your dog or cat. Why is that important? Why does FIF help fund ID microchips?

When island fox M152 received his radio collar this fall, he already had a documented history.

- He was first captured in 2014, when he was a young adult (estimated 1-2 years old). Island foxes live to be 8-12 years old in the wild. M152 is an adult male in his prime.

- He was living in the same area four years ago, which tells us that he is an adult male with an established territory in this location. Seven pups were seen in this same area in 2018. There is a good possibility that M152 is their father or grandfather. DNA comparison of blood samples could document their relationship. A blood sample was taken from M152.

M152's territory includes hillsides and coastal beaches, lucky fox

- 2014 was a drought year and M152 weighed 4.5 lbs (he was considered "thin"). In 2018 he had beefed up to 4.9 lbs (a weight considered "healthy"). A half pound might not seem like much of a difference, but when you are tiny that's almost 10% of your body weight.

island fox chin whiskers
- What has made the difference in M152's weight? Is he just eating better this year or is he eating a different diet than in 2014? Four years ago, a whisker sample was taken from M152. This year a whisker sample was collected again. Friends of the Island Fox has funded a Research Grant to evaluate these whisker samples. Whiskers record what the fox has been eating over a four to six month period. Isotopes from the food items, prey or plant matter, are laid down in the whisker as it grows out. M152 may help us learn what an island fox needs to eat to be healthy and successfully parent pups.

Friends of the Island Fox funds ID microchips, blood testing

You are the important partner in all of these efforts. 
When you donate to Friends of the Island Fox you are helping
 M152 and his pups have a safer future.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Island Fox M152 Gets a Radio Collar!

photo courtesy of CINP / NPS
Meet M152! 

This male island fox just got a radio collar funded by donations to Friends of the Island Fox.

Do you see it? 

It's that bit of black just under his chin and above the biologist's gloved hand.

This radio collar will allow biologists to monitor M152 without interfering with his normal wild life. He can be checked-on from a distance by a technician with an antennae and receiver or even from a small plane flying over the island. 

Refurbished radio collars - headed to island foxes
M152's radio-tracking collar emits a unique radio-signal frequency just for him. 

Hear - Normal radio collar

His collar locates his position and reports that he is moving around normally. If M152 should stop moving for 4-6 hours–not move at all–the radio collar will give off a different signal. Hear - Distress alert from radio collar The rapid beep alerts biologists that something might have happened to him. The radio collar then enables biologists to hone in on the little fox body so they can find out what has happened.

M152's newly refurbished radio collar will provide information on his activity for the next 2-3 years.

Radio-tracking collars are vitally important to monitoring island fox populations across the islands. In 2018, donors like you helped Friends of the Island Fox fund a record 25 radio collars:

On each island approximately 20 radio collars need to be refurbished or purchased new each year. 

In 2019 FIF's GOAL is to refurbish 20-30 radio collars 
and purchase 10 new collars

Won't you help with this vital effort to monitor island foxes! 
You've helped us save island foxes from extinction. 
Please donate to help keep island foxes safe and healthy.

Stay tuned. M152 also got a health check. 
Find out what we learned about him.