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Recovery Status of Endangered Island Foxes

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Date: December 6, 2007
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

During the December “From Shore to Sea” lecture National Park Service (NPS) Wildlife Biologist, Tim Coonan, will discuss the latest efforts to save the endangered island fox following a severe, over 90% decline in the population caused by golden eagle predation.

Coonan will outline how both short-term and longer-term recovery actions for the island fox are beginning to ensure the survival of this unique island mammal. The rebound in the fox population is significant considering island foxes were almost extinct on San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands in 2000, with as few as 15 foxes found on each island. Today, the fox population is on the road to recovery, with small but stable populations on those islands and on the largest Channel Island, Santa Cruz.

A successful captive breeding program, coupled with the unexpected reproductive success of foxes released to the wild, has allowed Channel Islands National Park and The Nature Conservancy to end captive breeding on San Miguel and Santa Cruz Islands. Live-capture and removal of golden eagles has minimized the impact of this new predator on island foxes and allowed wild fox survival to increase. Moreover, removal of feral pigs from Santa Cruz and the reestablishment of bald eagles to the northern Channel Islands have tipped the ecological balance in favor of island foxes.

Since 1992, Coonan has directed the terrestrial restoration and monitoring programs at the park and since 1999, he has directed the island fox recovery program for the NPS. For the past 23 years, Coonan has worked for the NPS with previous assignments at Canyon De Chelly National Monument, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Death Valley National Park.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with generous support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures will occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 11, 2007, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, December 12, 2007, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

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.