|81210 at the Foxpital in 2017|
She initially wore a radio collar to protect all of Catalina's population, but later her collar helped save her life.
During annual island-wide counting in 2015, this young female fox was caught for the first time. She was a yearling and received her ID microchip with the number 81210. Catalina Island Conservancy Wildlife Biologist Lara Brenner says "She was a big, healthy female weighing nearly 6 pounds, which is a lot for an island fox!" (Most island foxes weigh 2.5–4 pounds, but Catalina Island foxes are the heaviest with weights to 6 pounds.)
Vixen was a young robust fox; the perfect candidate to wear a radio collar. As a sentinel fox, 81210 was not vaccinated against disease. If something happened to her, the radio collar would alert biologists to take action to protect other foxes across the island.
|Two Harbors, Catalina Island, Vixen's home territory|
|Campground on the hillside above Two Harbors.|
In 2017, Vixen 81210 was captured again. Because of her identifying microchip and radio collar, biologists were able to compare Vixen's health status to her last health check two years earlier. Brenner says "She had lost a significant amount of weight." In addition, biologists noted a "strange, lemon-sized mass on her abdomen. ...[They] wondered if the mass was impeding her movement" and impairing her ability to find food.
Vixen under went surgery at the Catalina Foxpital to remove the mass. "The operation was a complete success!" Brenner says. "After a few days recuperating in the clinic, 81210 was released back at her home site with a brand new radio collar." Now her radio collar allowed her to recover in the wild while being monitored.
In 2018, four-year-old Vixen was captured and given a health check again. "The surgical scar had healed well," says Brenner, "... she had regained her lost weight - and then some!"
In this year's counting, 81210 was captured again. On November 12, 2019, Brenner and her team gave the spunky Vixen a health check and discovered that two years after her surgery the benign tumor has returned. Because 81210 is now a middle-aged island fox, it was determined she would not be put through the impacts of surgery again. Other than the return of the fatty tumor, she appears healthy.
The Vixen of Two Harbors continues to patrol her hillside territory with her radio collar. Brenner says "We will continue to monitor her progress throughout the years to understand how this unusual pathology affects Catalina Island foxes."
Radio-tracking collars are vital to protecting individual island foxes and their island populations. The Vixen of Two Harbors thanks you for your support.