Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Catalina Island Fox

I leave for Catalina in 13 days, so over that time I'll be posting information about the island up to prepare. I figure if I have to learn as much as I can about the island and it's ecology, why not share? ;)
Let's start with the Catalina Island Fox. The information I'm posting came from the Catalina Island Conservancy's website. The Island Fox has been on the island for around 4,000 years. There are differing theories as to how they came to be on the island, including making their way across during storms by drifting over, or being brought by the natives that inhabited the islands. They descended from the grey fox, and can be found on 6 of the 8 Channel Islands. 
The sub-species found on Catalina is the Santa Catalina Island Fox - Urocyon littoralis catalinae. They run about 4-5 pounds, and are solitary animals with the exception of January through March, when they breed. They usually produce 2-3 kits per litter. 
The foxes are omnivores, and the island's largest predator. They'll eat eggs, berries, lizards, mice, insects, and even cactus. They are crepuscular, meaning they are active mainly at dawn and dusk. 
In 1999 a particularly virulent form of canine distemper came to the island via domesticated dogs. This ravaged the fox population on the east end of the island. Only 20-25 individuals remained. The far more remote west end was spared and efforts were undertaken to vaccinate all of the west end population, and begin captive breeding and transfers to try and revitalize the eastern population. The species is eligible for being listed as a federally endangered species, and as such, it is imperative that people do not feed these animals, or try to keep them as pets. Often when fed the animals come up to roads, causing a potential for car strikes

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