- July 8, 2020, 4:00 pm
- Tim Coonan, National Park Service (ret.)
- Chris Stoughton
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Island foxes exist at small population sizes on California’s eight Channel Islands, and their island evolution makes them vulnerable to novel diseases, parasites and predators. In the 1990s island foxes declined to near extinction on the northern Channel Islands due to predation by golden eagles and on Santa Catalina Island due to canine distemper virus. Island foxes were listed as Endangered in 2004, and became the subjects of intense recovery actions, including captive breeding and reintroduction, capture and relocation of golden eagles, and vaccination against canine distemper virus and rabies. Foxes recovered and were delisted in 2016, marking the quickest recovery of a mammal in the history of the ESA. Recovery required expertise from such disciplines as raptor biology, ecology, disease/veterinary, genetics, animal husbandry and population demography. Work was coordinated through a novel model of cooperative conservation well ahead of the official effort to list and recover an endangered species.