Channel Island FoxUrocyon littoralis
The Channel Island fox is a small fox species unique to the Channel Islands of California. They are a descendent of the larger mainland gray fox, however due to natural phenomenon known as "island dwarfism", their body size was eventually decreased as living on an island means limited resources and space. The Channel Island fox is found nowhere else on Earth but on six of the eight Channel Islands. Each of the six island's populations of fox is considered a separate subspecies and endemic to the area.
remain in the world
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Complex layer vegetation with a high density of woody, perennially fruiting shrubs.
HabitatThe Channel Islands are located in a semi-arid climate. Although the Channel Island fox is known to live throughout different areas and biomes of the islands, they prefer to live in a densely shrubbed or wooded area with ample cover. Channel Island foxes practice monogamous pairing and breed once a year. They usually give birth to their kits in abandoned dens made by other animals residing on the islands. It is also thought that this species of fox has an extended period of prenatal care compared to other fox species, meaning the young stay with their parents longer than usual.
In 1999, a recovery program for the Channel Island fox was put in place to help re-establish the animal’s population. The program had four main pillars to uphold it:
- the captive breeding, and reintroduction, of foxes
- the removal and relocation of the golden eagles
- the reintroduction of bald eagles to the Islands
- the removal of the non-native feral pigs
This strategy was able to reverse the impending extinction of the endangered population.
The captive breeding of Channel Island foxes ended in 2008 and all healthy foxes were returned back into the wild. As of 2017/18, the populations of the foxes has recovered and have been removed from the endangered species list. The strategy to bring the Channel Island fox from near extinction brought many changes to the islands, such as:
- Over 40 golden eagles were captured and relocated from the Islands
- Bald eagles were reintroduced into the Channel Island ecosystem
- Feral pigs, and other ungulates were removed from the northern Channel Islands
How You Can Help
The populations of the Channel Island foxes are now considered stable but you can still help to ensure the Channel Island fox populations remain healthy. If you are ever in the area, please:
- keep your dogs on leash
- properly dispose of all pet and human waste
- do not feed the foxes
- drive slowly and be alert for wildlife, especially at dusk and dawn
HAVE MADE A PROMISE TO CONNECT WITH NATURE
It’s the little things that citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.
— Wangari Maathai
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