The Catalina fox is the smallest species of fox in the world. Although the animal is still on the endangered species list, its population has recently increased, reaching approximately 1,700 specimens.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is looking to remove the Catalina fox from the endangered species list, although some believe that the fox is not 100% out of danger of extinction.
According to the researchers, the fox lives only in one part of the world, and that is a small island in Southern California.
In 2014, the experts captured 342 foxes and 19 of them were pups. In 2013, the biologists counted 68 pups out of 362 captured foxes.
Julie King, director of conservation and wildlife management for the Catalina Island Conservancy, believes that the Catalina fox population could be regulating itself, especially in the face of a reduced amount of prey, which is the mice population that is decreasing due to the recent droughts.
In 1999, there were approximately 1,342 Catalina foxes living on the island, while in 2000, there were only 100 of them.
According to the biologists, the rapid decrease in population was caused by a raccoon infected with distemper.
However, as the Catalina fox population is growing, the animal is facing a new potential threat: interaction with the tourists that visit the island every year.
The researchers say that there are no natural predators on the small island that could threaten the foxes.
Dave Garcelon, president of a nonprofit research organization called the Institute for Wildlife, explained that the recovery of the Catalina fox population is a great example of ecological restoration. But having no natural predators, the situation could get out of control.
Garcelon recounts that he had an encounter with a Catalina fox and the animal did not want to get from under his car, no matter how loud he honked.
Reports show that at least 21 foxes died in 2014 after being hit by cars. Two foxes drowned in water containers that were left uncovered, and one was killed by an unleashed dog.
The reports reveal that one fox died after ingesting rat poison and nine other foxes died under unknown circumstances.
Image Source: islaearth
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