The Catalina Island fox has done great work growing its population and coming back from being on the endangered list, but it appears the smallest fox species is not entirely out of danger just yet.
In just 15 years, the Catalina Island Conservancy was able to bump up the Catalina Island fox's numbers, allowing the population to grow in 2014 to over 1,700. This is quite a feat considering the fox's population dropped to as low as 100 in 2000, but the Conservancy can't rest just yet because the Catalina Island fox is still under threat. This time, the problem lies with human interaction.
It's essentially a good thing for the Catalina Island fox to be so many in number but the bigger its population is, the more opportunities it has to interact with people. At least 25 of the foxes have already died due to human interaction in 2014. If trends stick, it's not going to mean good news for the Catalina Island fox.
Close to one million people come to Catalina Island each year so the Conservancy has its work cut out, but it's not backing down from the challenge, saying it is committed toward becoming the leader in conservation in lived landscapes.
A lot of the time Catalina Island foxes are found close to trash cans, so the Conservancy is launching a new program to procure animal-proof receptacles for trash and recycling. Across the 42,000 acres that the Conservancy watches over, it will need about 150 new trash and recycling containers, each one costing almost $2,000.
"Installing animal-proof trash and recycling receptacles will prevent the foxes and other wildlife from entering the containers and help eliminate trash spills that attract the foxes and other wildlife into inhabited areas and roadsides, where they may be struck by a vehicle," explained Julie King, conservation and wildlife management director for the Catalina Island Conservancy.
Each trash can will have an 80-gallon capacity and has been designed to require users to reach inside into a covered area in order to unlatch its lid to open it. After users release it, the lid swings shut, keeping trash and recycled materials inside and wildlife like the Catalina Island fox out.
Aside from getting hit by vehicles on the road, Catalina Island foxes are also in danger of poisoning from traps intended for other animals and drowning from uncovered containers of water.
Photo: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region | Flickr