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island foxThe diminutive Island fox is found only on the Channel Islands off the California coast. / National Park Service photo

The island fox, a small cousin to the gray fox, is found on the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California, and nowhere else. They weigh in at three to five pounds and are about the size of a house cat.

The little fox was listed as an endangered species in 2004, when the total population had dropped by ninety percent to about two hundred remaining foxes. The population has rebounded to an estimated six thousand as of 2015 as the result of a recovery program that removed feral pigs from the islands, reduced the population of golden eagles, and introduced a captive breeding and a vaccination program against canine distemper.

Thanks to the strong comeback, last week three groups of the island fox were removed from the endangered list and one group was downgraded from endangered to threatened. Hunting is not an issue in any event, as hunting is prohibited on all the islands comprising the Channel Islands National Park.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that ninety-nine percent of all animal and plant species listed under the Endangered Species Act have been saved from extinction since the time of the law’s enactment in 1973.

Click to read the entire Reuters article by Steve Gorman.

Posted August 13, 2016

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