The Island Fox Makes a Successful Recovery

By Brent Fewell

Great success story on the recovery of California’s endangered island foxIsland Fox, also known as Santa Cruz’s dwarf fox that resides in California’s Channel Islands.  In 1999, there were only 85 of these little guys in existence, and after being listed in 2004 under the Endangered Species Act, today, there are over 2,500, as being reported by National Geographic.  The predatory culprit in this case was not humans, but rather the golden eagle, although turns human activity resulted in a chain of events that almost lead to the demise of this beautiful creature.  Golden eagles began migrating to the Island during the 1990s to feed on an explosion of feral pigs, and the fox made for an opportune snack.  According to NatGeo,

In previous times, golden eagles arriving on the Channel Islands would have likely been chased off by bald eagles, which are intensely territorial. But the Channel Islands’ bald eagles had been decimated decades earlier by the insecticide DDT, Coonan explained. From the 1940s to about the 1970s, chemical companies discharged millions of pounds of DDT into the ocean, where it contaminated the bald eagle’s marine food supply.

Great story of a successful recovery, but reminder of how quickly ecosystems can get out of wack – the non-scientific term for ecological perturbation – with human encroachment and activity.