Image by @joelsartore | Did you know there’s a National Park off of the coast of California called Channel Islands? It consists of eight small islands, one of which is the only place on earth one can find a Santa Catalina Island fox like this one. These tiny foxes weigh just 4-6 pounds (2 kg) and are 25 percent smaller than gray foxes, their ancestors found on the mainland. Though they are one of the smallest canid species in the world, these little guys are the largest mammalian predators on their island home. Because they have no land predators to fear, these foxes are not nocturnal hunters and can often be seen roaming the island during the day.
In the 1990s, predation by non-native golden eagles caused a severe decline of Santa Catalina Island foxes along with their neighboring subspecies, leaving just a few dozen island foxes alive. Intensive efforts to save these little foxes began in 1999, which involved the relocation of golden eagles, introduction of bald eagles (who mostly eat fish), and the breeding of Island foxes in captivity. In less than a decade, more than 200 captive bred foxes were released back into the wild. Today, Channel Islands houses almost 6,000 of them. Experts say that the recovery of Island foxes was the fastest of any mammal ever listed under the Endangered Species Act.
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