Santa Cruz Island Fox

Santa Cruz Island Fox

Photo: Island Fox, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands national park, California.  April 2012

The Island Fox is native to 6 of the 8 California Channel Islands, with each island containing it’s own subspecies of the island fox.

By the year 2000, the fox population on Santa Cruz island had declined to around 135 adults.  The other islands suffered and even greater decline in fox population.  The reason is somewhat complex but a basic shorthand version is:  Historically, Bald Eagles were present on the islands.  A DDT spill in the 1950’s caused the Bald Eagle population to decline, eventually disappearing all together.  In the absence of Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles took up residence on the islands.  Bald Eagles eat fish, Golden Eagles eat small mammals and rodents.  Conservation efforts in the 1990’s removed introduced species from the islands, mainly pigs, deer, and elk.  Up to this point, pigs had been a main food source of the Golden Eagles.  With the pigs gone, the eagles took up predation on the Islands Foxes and the population declined.

In 2004, four of the Island Fox subspecies were classified and protected as an endangered species and about this time a breeding program was initiated.  The fox population on Santa Cruz Island is now around 700.

Over the course of the trip I saw five foxes in total.  Three on San Miguel island and two on Santa Cruz island.  I only wish I had had a bigger lens with me to get some better photos.

 

Santa Cruz Island Fox

Photo: Island Fox, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands national park, California.  April 2012

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.