Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Can You Help the Island Fox?

You don’t have to be on the Channel Islands to help the island fox and all of the wild creatures that live here in Southern California.

In September, volunteers from Friends of the Island Fox joined volunteers from the Channel Island Park Foundation to clean up trash on Santa Cruz Island. Through our joint efforts we picked up over 400 lbs. of debris that had washed up on the island or had been left behind by human activities.

Pieces of metal and glass pose a threat to the feet of wild animals. Fishing lures and cast off human items can be dangerous to island foxes. (See The Island Fox and The Fishing Hook)

Plastics that travel down gutters and storm drains to the sea are eaten by a wide range of animals. When these bits of plastic enter the food chain, they threaten not only animals, but humans as well. So the next time you see a piece of trash in the gutter or on the ground, don’t just walk on by. Stop and pick it up. Your simple act could save a young sea bird, a sea turtle or even an island fox.

Our thanks to the Island Fox Friends that participated in this year’s clean-up: Bob Colli, Keri Dearborn, Betty Dunbar, Michael Lawshé, Jerry Leach, Gerri Martin, Pat Meyer and Mary Renaker.

A special thank you to Carol Pillsbury of the Channel Island Park Foundation and Russell Galipeau of Channel Islands National Park for including FIF in this important event.


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Friday, July 24, 2009

Island Foxes by Any Other Name

photo courtesy Kevin Schafer

Island foxes (Urocyon littoralis) are unique to the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California. But as we travel to different schools and communities we have run across a variety of names for foxes.

Foxes are the most diverse group of canines with various species found all over the world. There are arctic foxes that turn white in winter to blend in with the arctic snow. There are kit foxes and fennec foxes, adapted for deserts in North America and Africa, respectively. The red fox is found world wide (some populations being natural and others introduced by people).

Because various kinds of foxes are found all over the world, a word for fox appears in many languages. Here are a few that students have provided:

  • zorro - Spanish
  • daeb - Arabic
  • Yu woo - Korean
  • renard - French
  • fuchs - German
  • volpe - Italian

Foxes belong to the subfamily of animals called canines which includes wolves, dingos, African wild dogs, jackals, coyotes and domestic dogs. Canines originally evolved in North America. Many of the canines that we know today, however, are members of the family that migrated from North America to other parts of the world millions of years ago. Even the gray wolf is from a line of canines that migrated to Asia and then returned to North America.

The coyote (Canis latrans) and the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), the ancestor of the island fox, never left North America. They are ancient species that lived side-by-side with saber-toothed cats and mammoths.

Island foxes have lived on the Channel Islands for at least 6,000 years. Friends of the Island Foxes urges you to explore our website and learn more about the island fox. The island fox only lives in one place in the world, on the California Channel Islands and each island has a different subspecies. To continue to survive into the future, the island fox needs your help.

A $10 donation will vaccinate an island fox against the threat of introduced disease: distemper and rabies.

To Donate CLICK on the Pay Pal or Network for Good button in the upper right corner.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Island Fox Goes to School

March through May is a busy time for island foxes, biologists, and Friends of the Island Fox.

Spring brings fox pups that need to be fed by their parents and counted by biologists in the field. It also is the time for Earth Day events.

For the second year, Friends of the Island Fox participated in the Rio Vista Elementary School Environmental Awareness and Career Day. FIF educators introduced fourth grade students to the island fox, a local endangered species. Students participated in a hands-on activity replicating an island fox health check. They became field biologists weighing, evaluating and recording health data. (More on island fox health checks)

Education can be exciting and fun. Check out Rio Vista Elementary's exciting event on Santa Clarita Valley TV


The first step in saving an endangered species is educating the local community. Education can come in a variety of approaches, activities and interactions. Friends of the Island Fox is devoted to educating the public, young and old, in creative and relevant ways. The more you know about the island fox, the better neighbor you can be to this endangered species.

To contact Friends of the Island Fox about classroom or community programs:
(805) 386-0386

admin@islandfox.org or islandfoxnews@gmail.com

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Monday, February 09, 2009

The Island Fox and the Fishing Hook

Because island foxes live on the Channel Islands and not on the mainland, some people wonder how their actions can do anything to help the island fox. But the island fox is our neighbor and our actions affect the fox directly and indirectly.

For example, someone fishing on or around Santa Catalina Island cut loose or lost a fishing line with a lure. The large lure found its way on shore. Perhaps it smelled of fish, because it attracted a curious and hungry island fox. While the angler had no intention of hurting an island fox, the abandoned lure did not discriminate. The hook lodged in the male fox’s upper and lower lip. He became unable to eat or drink, resulting in malnourishment and dehydration.

Fortunately, the injured fox was caught and taken into the Catalina Island Conservancy clinic on November 27, 2008. The lure was removed and the island fox’s face was stitched up. He was treated with antibiotics and nutritional supplements. By December 8th, he had recovered and was able to be released back into the wild on Santa Catalina Island. Other island foxes treated by the Catalina Island Conservancy.

Abandoned fishing hooks, line and nets can cause unintentional injury to sea life, birds and mammals like the island fox. You can make a big difference for a wide variety of animals by discarding used fishing line and hooks into the trash. If you find abandoned fishing equipment carefully gather it and dispose of it appropriately, but be careful of hooks! Abandoned fishing hooks are dangerous for everyone.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

CSI: Island Fox

What happens when an island fox is found dead?

A Critter Scene Investigation

Just like your favorite crime drama on TV, it takes a team of scientists to understand what has happened when an endangered island fox is found dead.

Determining the cause of death for an animal that has died is a critical component of island fox recovery. Radio collars worn by all released and wild-born foxes provide a unique signal when an animal is motionless for 12 hours. (more about radio collars)

When this signal is detected, field personnel locate the collar and collect the carcass if in fact the animal is deceased. Island fox carcasses are sent to Dr. Linda Munson at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where she and her staff perform necropsies (autopsies) to determine precisely what killed each animal.

Information from necropsies helped determine the direct association between the island foxes decline and predation by golden eagles on the Northern Channel Islands and disease on Santa Catalina Island.

Helping the island fox comes in a variety of forms. Necropsies continue to provide critical information on disease, health, and continuing predation issues. Each island fox necropsy requires several hours of veterinarian time and follow-up laboratory analysis, and costs approximately $250. Because this program is not otherwise funded, there is a growing need for help in funding this vital part of island fox conservation.

You can help a real CSI, a Critter Scene Investigation. Your donations to Friends of the Island Fox can help to fund important scientific work and island fox necropsies.

To donate through Pay Pal, click on the Pay Pal button at the upper right corner of the page.

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