Catalina Island foxes encountering New Problems

Catalina Island foxes encountering New Problems

In 1999, Canine distemper virus badly affected the population of Catalina Island foxes. After a number of conservation strategies, tiny, pointy-eared foxes made a significant comeback from near extinction.

However, now it has been found that the species living on an island off the Southern California coast are facing new problems. The foxes are now moving out of the wild and entering into the city of Avalon. In the city, the foxes are increasingly being hit by cars, trapped in uncovered water containers and stuck in trash bins.

They are also being attacked by pet dogs and rat poison has also become a problem for the five-pound foxes. Julie King, the island's conservation and wildlife management, said he along with other biologists came up with a recovery plan involving captive breeding and vaccination. It helps in reviving the population of the Catalina Island foxes.

Due to the virus, around 100 of the animals were left. In the last year, around 1,700 foxes are present on the island. King also took an initiative of educating the island's human residents and visitors, as how they can co-exist with the animals without killing them.

The Catalina Island Conservancy is raising finds in order to buy 150 animal-proof trash bins and recycling containers that cost $2,000 each. "The consequence of having a recovered population is that they're moving into areas around Avalon where people haven't seen foxes in their backyards for 15 years. They've become less diligent with trash practices", said King.

In 2014 alone, at least 25 foxes have died due to vehicle trauma, poisonings and other human-related dealings. The rough number is more than the two previous years combined, when 20 Catalina Island foxes were killed by vehicles.