The Channel Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis)
There are six types of fox that make their home on six of the eight channels islands. Each species has its own island and has adapted and evolved specifically to fit in its ecosystem. They are similar to the gray fox and it’s believed that the gray fox is this species’ ancestor. However, these foxes are much smaller than any mainland fox.
Older sources cite that the Channel Island Fox has six species and they are:
- Short tailed fox
- Island gray fox
- Channel islands fox
- Channel island gray fox
- California channel island fox
- Insular fox
Newer sources, including one belonging to the Channel Islands National Park, refer to these foxes by which island they inhabit. This makes it much easier to identify them. They are also identified as ONE species, the Channel Islands fox and therefor, each of the six is a subspecies:
- Santa Cruz fox (Urocyon littoralis santacruzae)
- San Miguel fox (Urocyon littoralis littoralis)
- Santa Rosa fox (Urocyon littoralis santarosae)
- Santa Catalina fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae)
- San Nicolas Fox (Urocyon littoralis dickey)
- San Clemente fox (Urocyon littoralis clementae)
Four of these species underwent catastrophic population declines in the 1990s, with some reaching as low as 15 individual animals (which was specifically the case for the San Miguel fox). The species as a whole was listed as critically endangered and drastic recovery programs were formulated.
Don’t worry, the news gets better for these foxes. We’ll explore this further on Vulpinology 101 Part 8. There, we’ll cover how the population decline occurred, what was being done to save them, what you can do.