Thursday, April 27, 2006

Catalina Island Fox - Tachi

Report From the Field, 4/22/06 - by Pat Meyer

Friends of the Island Fox traveled to Santa Catalina Island to participate in the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Earth Day celebration and the opening of their new Nature Center at Avalon Canyon.

The highlight of the day was meeting Tachi,
Catalina Island Conservancy’s educational ambassador. This young female island fox plays an important role in enlightening people about this endangered species. Though incredibly cute, she is not a pet. While I was allowed to be photographed with Tachi, I was not allowed to get too close to her, or to touch her at all. She is handled only by the Catalina Island Conservancy biologists.

Tachi’s story:
Her full name is Ne Shun Tachi – “Our little girl of hope.” She was born in a litter that was neglected by their mother. It was determined very early in her life that she had an eye infection. She continued to have chronic eye infections and difficulty nursing from her foster mother, so she was returned to the Institute of Wildlife Studies’ veterinary clinic periodically. While receiving treatment, her eye opened and she became habituated to the humans that cared for her. Consequently Tachi was not able to be released into the wild with her siblings and has become an educational ambassador for her species.

Friends of the Island Fox, Inc. sends our appreciation to the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Chief Conservation and Education Officer, Carlos de la Rosa, and Ann Muscat, Chief Executive Officer, for their invitation to participate in their Earth Day celebration.

Spring population numbers are showing increases on all of the islands. There will be more captive fox pups who will need radio collars for release into the wild. Our motto is “Working Together To Save The Island Fox.” You can make a difference. Join us and our friends at the Catalina Island Conservancy as we strive to save the island fox from extinction.

Friday, April 21, 2006

About Friends of the Island Fox, Inc.

Friends of the Island Fox, Inc. is the joint effort of conservation professionals and concerned private citizens striving to create public awareness about the endangered island fox and to raise funds to support education, research and conservation measures to ensure the island fox’s survival.

The organization received 501 (c) (3) status (from the Internal Revenue Service) as a charitable and educational corporation in March, 2005.

To reach us:

Friends of the Island Fox, Inc.
3760 Groves Place
Somis, CA 93066

by phone: (805) 386-0386

e-mail: admin@islandfox.org

Photo Coming
(from left to right: Patricia M. Meyer, Catherin A. Schwemm , Keri F. Dearborn, Alan Varsik)


Patricia M. Meyer, President
Born and educated in England, Pat immigrated to Canada, and then to the United States, settling in Los Angeles where she completed her MBA through the University of Redlands, California. Following employment in advertising and marketing, the remainder of her career was spent as Vice-President of Personnel and Administration for a nationwide property-casualty insurance company, handling all aspects of human resource management and the administration of the company’s five corporate offices.

Catherin A. Schwemm, Secretary
Graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Master of Science in Biology. Currently a PhD student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Catherin has worked as a park ranger and biologist at several national park sites including Channel Islands National Park. As the park's wildlife biologist she coordinated the initiation of island fox monitoring in 1992, and from that time until January, 2006 worked as a biologist and geographic information systems (GIS) specialist, focusing on issues relating to terrestrial vertebrate ecology.

Edna W. Moore, Treasurer
Graduated from California State University, Northridge with a BS in Business Administration, Accounting Emphasis. Edna is a CPA. With nearly thirty years of experience in finance and accounting, Edna began her career as a staff auditor at Arthur Young, progressing to the level of Senor Auditor with a focus in computer audits. Following her time in public accounting she began her career in industry working in various industries including construction (Taft Electric), biotechnology (Amgen) and most recently, agriculture. Her experience at Amgen included accounting, cost accounting, auditing, financial reporting and financial planning and analysis.

Keri F. Dearborn, Vice President
Graduated with a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1983. Keri is a nonfiction writer and a contributing author for a number of textbooks, teachers’ guides, and state literacy tests. A graduate of the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting (2000), Keri has also written for documentary films and studio marketing presentations. She has administered conservation and educational programs for the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden, and Wild Birds Unlimited in Woodland Hills.

Alan Varsik, Vice President
Graduated with a BS in Environmental Biology from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. Worked as a keeper of a wide array of animals, earning an MA in Conservation Park Management from DePaul University. Since 1999 Alan has been the General Curator of the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens. Currently he serves on the expertise group to the Island Fox Recovery Coordination Group and is the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Island Fox studbook keeper and population manager.

Updated 02/01/08

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Restoring Natural Balance - The Bald Eagle

First bald eagle hatched on northern Channel Islands in 51 years !

In March biologists spotted a bald eagle nest with an egg, on Santa Cruz Island.

On Wednesday, April 12, 2006, the egg hatched and the first bald eagle chick since 1949 chirpped to its parents on one of California’s northern Channel Islands. This is very exciting news not only for the bald eagle, but also for the island fox.

Bald eagles and island foxes lived together amicably on the Channel Islands for thousands of years. The bald eagle preyed primarily on fish, sea birds, and carrion, while the omnivorous fox hunted the islands’ small rodents, insects, and birds, and also foraged for a variety of native fruit. The two predators each had their own niche and played an important role in maintaining balance in the island ecosystem.

The delicate balance, however, was destroyed when the chemical insecticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) entered the marine food chain. Small sea life absorbed the DDT, they were eaten by fish, who in turn were eaten by the bald eagles. High levels of DDT in the bald eagles caused them to lay eggs with thin shells that cracked when the parents tried to hatch them.

The last successful bald eagle chick on the northern Channel Islands hatched on Anacapa in 1949.

Without the territorial bald eagle, the islands were open habitat for the golden eagle. Golden eagles migrated to the islands to hunt the large number of feral pigs on Santa Cruz Island. Preying mainly on mammals, the golden eagle next began hunting the island fox. In the late 1990’s predation by golden eagles nearly pushed the island fox to extinction on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz Islands.

In the last few years, over 40 golden eagles have been removed from the northern islands and relocated to the mainland. Since 2001, 46 young bald eagles have been returned to Santa Cruz Island. As the bald eagles have matured they have begun reclaiming the islands as their own.

With the hatching of this first youngster in April 2006, there is hope bald eagles will once again be able to make the northern Channel Islands their home. A successful return of the bald eagle would be a important step toward restoring the natural balance and making the islands safe again for the island fox.

(While bald eagles have also been reintroduced on Santa Catalina Island, DDT levels still remain high enough off Catalina that these eagles are unable to lay sufficiently-shelled eggs. On Catalina, bald eagle eggs are collected by biologists, incubated, and the chicks are then returned to the nest to be raised by their parents. Large quantities of DDT in barrels were dumped into the ocean off Palos Verdes Peninsula by Montrose Chemical Company in the 1950s and 60s. These unstable barrels continue to slowly release their toxic content into the ocean and there is no sign that bald eagles on Santa Catalina will be able to reproduce on their own for sometime into the future.)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Become a Fox Ambassador School!

This week Friends of the Island Fox launched its program for Fox Ambassador Schools.

Our organization representatives are going out to schools in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties to introduce school children to the island fox and its struggle for survival.

The island fox is a local California species and unique in the world. Its story includes the importance of balance in nature and is easily understood by children of all ages. Once children are aware of the fox's situation, they are eager to help and to take an empowered stance to help these endangered creatures.

We challenge the students in our Fox Ambassador Schools to find creative ways to help the island fox on three levels:

  • by becoming an informed individual and learning about the island fox
  • helping the fox directly through a project
  • and reaching out in their community to increase public awareness

If your class or school is interested in making a difference and helping to save an endangered animal, contact Friends of the Island Fox, Inc. at islandfoxnews@gmail.com for more information about becoming a Fox Ambassador School.

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