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Continued Trend in Island Fox Recovery

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Date: June 16, 2014
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

The endangered island fox subspecies on the northern Channel Islands are at or approaching biological recovery following their near 95% decline in the 1990s.

Continued monitoring has found excellent reproduction and survival of over 90% of the wild foxes. The estimated population on San Miguel Island of 577 foxes has exceeded pre-decline levels. On neighboring Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands the populations are nearing pre-decline numbers with an estimated 894 and 1,100 animals respectively.

Intensive fox recovery actions from 1999 to 2008 included eradication of feral pigs, relocation of 44 predatory golden eagles, restoration of bald eagles, and a ten-year captive breeding and release program of island foxes. During that period 225 pups were born in captivity, and 254 foxes were released to the wild.

This week Channel Islands National Park is hosting the 16th Island Fox Conservation Working Group, a meeting of scientists, veterinarians, zoo experts, resource managers, and community members dedicated to fox recovery.

The working group will discuss the status of each of the six island fox subspecies and will hear from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the status of the island fox recovery plan. They will outline plans to address current threats to the island fox populations including a new parasitic worm on San Miguel Island, drought and climate change effects, and the risk of introduction of canine and other diseases.

The meeting will open with a report from Friends of the Island Fox (FIF), a program of the Channel Island Park Foundation, which has been dedicated to saving the island fox since 2005. FIF has raised $57,658 to support recovery efforts. Their education and public outreach efforts have reached over 43,000 people including enlisting 19 organizations and schools in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties as fox ambassadors.

Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau said, "The work of FIF has been vital to island fox recovery and a great compliment to the ongoing efforts by the scientific community to bring the island fox back from the brink of extinction."

FIF is sponsoring this gathering of fox experts and conservation partners on June 17 and 18, 2014 at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Ventura Harbor. The public is invited to attend.

To learn more about FIF: http://www.islandfox.org/

For island fox information: http://www.nps.gov/chis/naturescience/terrestrial-animals.htm

Fox images for media: http://www.nps.gov/chis/parknews/press-photos.htm  

Did You Know?

Bechers Bay coastline on Santa Rosal Island

Although the park is within 60 miles of 18 million people, it is home to 175 miles of pristine undeveloped coastline.