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Encyclopedia > Island Fox
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Island Fox
Conservation status: Endangered

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Urocyon
Species: U. littoralis
Urocyon littoralis
(Baird, 1857)

The Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis) is a small fox that is native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. It is the smallest fox species in the United States. There are six subspecies of the fox, each unique to the island it inhabits, reflecting its evolutionary history. Other names for the Island Fox include Coast Fox, Short-Tailed Fox, Island Gray Fox, Channel Islands Fox, Channel Islands Gray Fox, California Channel Island Fox and Insular Gray Fox. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1205x792, 165 KB) Description: Island fox. ... Scientific classification or biological classification is how biologists group and categorize extinct and living species of organisms (as opposed to folk taxonomy). ... Phyla Subregnum Parazoa Porifera (sponges) Subregnum Agnotozoa Placozoa (trichoplax) Orthonectida (orthonectids) Rhombozoa (dicyemids) Subregnum Eumetazoa Radiata (unranked) (radial symmetry) Ctenophora (comb jellies) Cnidaria (coral, jellyfish, anemones) Bilateria (unranked) (bilateral symmetry) Acoelomorpha (basal) Orthonectida (parasitic to flatworms, echinoderms, etc. ... Typical Classes Subphylum Urochordata - Tunicatas Ascidiacea Thaliacea Larvacea Subphylum Cephalochordata - Lancelets Subphylum Myxini - Hagfishes Subphylum Vertebrata - Vertebrates Petromyzontida - Lampreys Placodermi (extinct) Chondrichthyes - Cartilaginous fishes Acanthodii (extinct) Actinopterygii - Ray-finned fishes Actinistia - Coelacanths Dipnoi - Lungfishes Amphibia - Amphibians Reptilia - Reptiles Aves - Birds Mammalia - Mammals Chordates (phylum Chordata) include the vertebrates, together with... Orders Subclass Multituberculata (extinct) Plagiaulacida Cimolodonta Subclass Palaeoryctoides (extinct) Subclass Triconodonta (extinct) Subclass Eutheria (includes extinct ancestors)/Placentalia (excludes extinct ancestors) Afrosoricida Artiodactyla Carnivora Cetacea Chiroptera Cimolesta (extinct) Creodonta (extinct) Condylarthra (extinct) Dermoptera Desmostylia (extinct) Dinocerata (extinct) Embrithopoda (extinct) Hyracoidea Insectivora Lagomorpha Litopterna (extinct) Macroscelidea Mesonychia (extinct) Notoungulata (extinct) Perissodactyla... Families Ailuridae Amphicyonidae† Canidae Felidae Herpestidae Hyaenidae Mephitidae Miacidae† Mustelidae Nandiniidae Nimravidae† Odobenidae Otariidae Phocidae Procyonidae Ursidae Viverravidae† Viverridae The diverse order Carnivora pronounced: (from Latin caro flesh, + vorare to devour) includes over 260 placental mammals. ... Genera Alopex Atelocynus Canis Cerdocyon Chrysocyon Cuon Dusicyon Fennecus Lycalopex Lycaon Nyctereutes Otocyon Pseudalopex Speothos Urocyon Vulpes Canidae is the family of carnivorous and omnivorous mammals commonly known as canines. ... The genus Urocyon contains two Western Hemisphere members of the fox family, the Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and the closely related Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis), of the family Canidae. ... In biology, binomial nomenclature is the formal method of naming species. ... Spencer Fullerton Baird Spencer Fullerton Baird (February 3, 1823 – August 19, 1887) was an American ornithologist and ichthyologist. ... A Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) A fox is a member of any of 27 species of small omnivorous canids. ... The Channel Islands of California, also called the Santa Barbara Islands, are a chain of eight islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California along the Santa Barbara Channel in the United States of America. ...


The Island Fox shares the Urocyon genus with the mainland Gray Fox, the fox from which it is descended. Its small size is a result of island dwarfing, a kind of allopatric speciation. Because Island Foxes are geographically isolated they have no immunity to parasites and diseases brought in from the mainland and are especially vulnerable to those domestic dogs may carry. In addition, Golden Eagle predation and human activities devastated fox numbers on several of the Channel Islands in the 1990s. Four Island Fox subspecies were federally protected as an endangered species in 2004, and efforts to rebuild fox populations and restore the ecosystems of the Channel Islands are being undertaken. In biology, a genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic grouping. ... Binomial name Urocyon cinereoargenteus (Schreber, 1775) The Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is a species of fox distributed from southern Canada to Venezuela. ... Island dwarfing is a biological phenomenon by which the size of animals isolated on an island shrinks dramatically over generations. ... Allopatric speciation, also known as geographic speciation, occurs when populations physically isolated by an extrinsic barrier evolve intrinsic (genetic) reproductive isolation such that if the barrier between the populations breaks down, individuals of the two populations can no longer interbreed. ... The immune system is the system of specialized cells and organs that protect an organism from outside biological influences. ... A parasite is an organism that spends a significant portion of its life in or on the living tissue of a host organism and which causes harm to the host without immediately killing it. ... Binomial name Aquila chrysaetos Linnaeus, 1758 The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. ... The endangered Sea Otter An endangered species is a population of organisms (frequently but not always a taxonomic species) which is either (a) so few in number or (b) threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters that it is at risk of becoming extinct. ...

Contents


Taxonomy and evolution

The Island Fox shares the Urocyon genus with the mainland Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), the fox from which it is descended. Its small size is a result of island dwarfing, a kind of allopatric speciation (that is, speciation brought about by geographic isolation — in this case from larger relatives on the mainland), combined with natural selection for smaller size because of the limited resources of the islands. The genus Urocyon contains two Western Hemisphere members of the fox family, the Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and the closely related Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis), of the family Canidae. ... In biology, a genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic grouping. ... Depending on usage, the term continental United States can refer to either: the 48 contiguous states plus the District of Columbia; or the 48 contiguous states plus the District of Columbia and Alaska. ... Binomial name Urocyon cinereoargenteus (Schreber, 1775) The Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is a species of fox distributed from southern Canada to Venezuela. ... Island dwarfing is a biological phenomenon by which the size of animals isolated on an island shrinks dramatically over generations. ... Allopatric speciation, also known as geographic speciation, occurs when populations physically isolated by an extrinsic barrier evolve intrinsic (genetic) reproductive isolation such that if the barrier between the populations breaks down, individuals of the two populations can no longer interbreed. ... Speciation refers to the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. ... Natural selection is the process by which individual organisms with favorable traits are more likely to survive and reproduce. ...

Subspecies of Island Fox
Subspecies of Island Fox

There are six subspecies of Island Fox, each of which is native to a specific Channel Island, and which evolved there independently of the others. The subspecies are Image File history File links Download high resolution version (954x756, 333 KB)Source: http://www. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (954x756, 333 KB)Source: http://www. ...

Foxes from each island are capable of interbreeding, but have genetic and phenotypic distinctions that make them unique; for example, the subspecies have differing numbers of tail vertebrae. Categories: US geography stubs | Channel Islands of California | Santa Barbara County, California ... Santa Rosa Island Santa Rosa Island is the second largest of the Channel Islands of California at 52,794 acres (21,365 hectares). ... NASA satellite image of Santa Cruz Island. ... San Nicolas Island (sometimes shortened as San Nic or SNI) is the most remote of Californias Channel Islands. ... Santa Catalina Island, location relative to the coast of Southern California Santa Catalina Island, often called simply Catalina Island, is a rocky island off the coast of the U.S. state of California. ... View from space of Southern California coast, showing Santa Catalina Island (closer to mainland) and San Clemente Island (further from mainland). ... Genetics (from the Greek genno γεννώ= give birth) is the science of genes, heredity, and the variation of organisms. ... The phenotype of an individual organism is either its total physical appearance and constitution or a specific manifestation of a trait, such as size, eye color, or behavior that varies between individuals. ... A diagram of a thoracic vertebra. ...


The small size of the Island Fox is an adaptation to the limited resources available in the island environment. The foxes are believed to have "rafted" to the northern islands between 10,400 and 16,000 years ago.[1] Initially, fox populations were located on the three northern islands, which were likely easier to access during the last ice age—when lowered sea levels united four of the northernmost islands into a single mega-island (Santa Rosae) and the distance between the islands and the mainland was reduced—it is likely that Native Americans brought the foxes to the southern islands of the archipelago, perhaps as pets or hunting dogs.[2] Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years For the animated movie, see Ice Age (movie). ... Santa Rosae was an ancient landmass off the coast of present-day southern California, near Ventura County and Santa Barbara County, of which the Channel Islands of California are remnants. ... A Hupa man, 1923 The term indigenous peoples of the Americas encompasses the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European explorers in the 15th century, as well as many present-day ethnic groups who identify themselves with those historical peoples. ...


Based on the limited fossil record and genetic distance from their Gray Fox ancestors, the northern Island Foxes are probably the older subspecies, while the San Clemente Island Foxes have been only resident on their island for about 3,400–4,300 years, and the San Nicolas Island Foxes established themselves as an independent group about 2,200 years ago. The Santa Catalina Island Foxes are potentially the most recently evolved subspecies, having been on their island for about 800–3,800 years.[1][3] The foxes did not persist on Anacapa Island because it has no reliable source of fresh water; Santa Barbara Island is too small to support the food demands of the foxes. NASA satellite image of Anacapa Island Anacapa Island is a small volcanic island located about 14 miles (23 km) off the coast of Ventura, California, in Ventura County. ... Categories: US geography stubs | Channel Islands of California | Santa Barbara County, California ...

A nighttime shot of an Island Fox with a mouse in its jaws.

Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1748x934, 263 KB) Description: An Island fox with some mice. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1748x934, 263 KB) Description: An Island fox with some mice. ...

Physical description

The Island Fox is much smaller than the gray fox, roughly the size of a house cat, and is the second smallest of all foxes after the Fennec. Typically the head-and-body length is 48–50 cm (18–20 in.), shoulder height 12–15 cm (4–6 in.), and the tail is 11–29 cm (4–11 in.) long, which is notably shorter than the 27–44 cm (10–17 in.) tail of the Gray Fox. Island foxes weigh between 1.3 and 2.8 kg (2.8–6.2 lb.). The male is always larger than the female.[4] The largest of the subspecies occurs on Santa Catalina Island and the smallest on Santa Cruz Island.[4] Binomial name Fennecus zerda (Zimmermann, 1780) The Fennec is a small fox found in the Sahara Desert of North Africa (excluding the coast) which have distinctive oversized ears. ...


The Island Fox has gray fur on its head, a ruddy red coloring on its sides, white fur on its belly, throat and the lower half of its face, and a black stripe on the dorsal surface of its tail.[4] In general the coat is darker and duller hued than that of the Gray Fox. The Island Fox molts once a year between August and November. Before the first molt pups are woolly and have a generally darker coat than adult foxes. In birds, moulting or molting is the routine shedding of old feathers. ...

An Island Fox kit nestled in the brush.
An Island Fox kit nestled in the brush.

Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1068x984, 226 KB) Description: An Island fox pup. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1068x984, 226 KB) Description: An Island fox pup. ...

Reproduction

Island Foxes typically form monogamous breeding pairs and are frequently seen together beginning in January and through the breeding season, from late February to early March. The gestation period is 33–50 days. The Island Fox gives birth in a den, a typical litter having one to five kits, with an average of two or three. Kits are born in the spring and emerge from the den in early summer; the mother lactates for 7–9 weeks. Sexual maturity is reached at 10 months, and the females usually breed within the first year. Island Foxes live for 4–6 years in the wild and for up to 8 years in captivity.[4] Gestation is the carrying of an embryo or fetus inside a female viviparous animal. ...


Ecology and behavior

Their preferred habitat is complex layer vegetation with a high density of woody, perennially fruiting shrubs. The foxes live in all of the island biomes including temperate forest and rainforest, temperate grassland and chaparral, with no island supporting more than 1,000 foxes. Island Foxes eat fruits, insects, birds, eggs, crabs, lizards, and small mammals, including the deer mouse. The foxes tend to move around by themselves, rather than in packs. They are generally diurnal, albeit with peaks of activity at dawn and dusk. Activity also fluctuates with the season; they are more active during the day in summer than they are in winter.[4] In ecology, a biome is a major regional group of distinctive plant, and animal communities best adapted to the regions physical natural environment, latitude, altitude and terrain factors. ... This article is about the rainforest in general. ... An Inner Mongolian Grassland. ... Chaparral is a shrubland biome found primarily in California, USA, that is shaped by a Mediterranean climate (mild, wet winters and hot dry summers) and wildfire. ... ... A diurnal animal is an animal that sleeps during the night and is active during the day. ...


Island Foxes are not intimidated by humans, as they have historically been at the top of the island food chain and had no natural predators. They are quite easy to tame and are generally docile.[4] Island foxes communicate with each other using auditory, olfactory and visual signals. A dominant fox uses vocalizations, staring, and ear flattening to cause another fox to submit. They mark territory with urine and feces. Food chains and food webs or food networks describe the feeding relationships between species in a biotic community. ...


Conservation status

A decline in Island Fox populations was identified in the 1990s. On San Miguel Island the decline began in 1994, the adult population falling from 450 to 15 in 1999. Similar population declines were discovered on Santa Cruz Island, where the population decreased from 2,000 adults in 1994 to less than 135 in 2000, and on Santa Rosa Island where 1,500 foxes recorded in 1994 were reduced to 14 animals by 2000.[5] Golden Eagle predation, discovered when foxes were radio-collared and monitored, proved to be the cause of the high mortality rates. Binomial name Aquila chrysaetos Linnaeus, 1758 The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. ...

 The Golden Eagle is four times the size of the Island Fox and can easily prey on the foxes.
Enlarge
The Golden Eagle is four times the size of the Island Fox and can easily prey on the foxes.

Golden Eagle predation is the primary cause of Island Fox mortality. Golden Eagles were unknown in the Channel Islands before the 1990s, and the first Golden Eagle nest was recorded on Santa Cruz Island in 1999.[6] Biologists propose that the eagle may have been attracted to the islands by the expanding populations of feral livestock (such as pigs), as well as the decimation of the local Bald Eagle population due to DDT exposure in the 1950s—the Bald Eagles would have deterred the Golden Eagles from settling on the islands while they themselves subsisted on fish.[7] Download high resolution version (2084x1900, 475 KB)Nova - an american golden eagle in the care of the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center at Auburn University. ... Download high resolution version (2084x1900, 475 KB)Nova - an american golden eagle in the care of the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center at Auburn University. ... Species Sus barbatus Sus bucculentus Sus cebifrons Sus celebensis Sus domesticus Sus heureni Sus philippensis Sus salvanius Sus scrofa Sus timoriensis Sus verrucosus Pigs are ungulates native to Eurasia collectively grouped under the genus Sus within the Suidae family. ... Binomial name Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Linnaeus, 1766) The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), also known as the American Eagle, is a bird of prey originating in North America, most recognizable as the national bird of the United States. ... DDT was the first modern pesticide and is arguably the most well known organic pesticide. ...


Introduced diseases or parasites can devastate Island Fox populations. Because Island Foxes are isolated they have no immunity to parasites and diseases brought in from the mainland and are especially vulnerable to those domestic dogs may carry. A canine distemper outbreak in 1998 killed approximately 90% of Santa Catalina Island's fox population.[6] (It is difficult to vaccinate against or treat foxes for parasites and disease in the wild.) In a medical sense, immunity is a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion. ... A parasite is an organism that spends a significant portion of its life in or on the living tissue of a host organism and which causes harm to the host without immediately killing it. ... Canine distemper is a viral disease affecting animals in the families Canidae, Mustelidae, Mephitidae, Procyonidae, and possibly Felidae (though not domestic cats; feline distemper or panleukopenia is a similar, but different, virus exclusive to cats). ... Vaccination is the process of administering live, albeit weakened, microbes to patients, with the intent of conferring immunity against a targeted form of a related disease agent. ...


Diminished food supply and general degradation of the habitat due to introduced mammal species, including feral cats, pigs, sheep, goats, and American Bison, the latter having been introduced to Catalina Island in the 1920s by a Hollywood film crew shooting a Western, also has had a negative effect on fox populations. Sweet clover (), introduced and naturalized to the U.S. from Eurasia as a forage and cover crop, supports insect biodiversity. ... Wyoming Mustang (feral) courtesy of U.S. BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program A feral animal or plant is one that has escaped from domestication and returned, partly or wholly, to its wild state. ... Binomial name Bison bison Linnaeus, 1758 Subspecies B. b. ... ... Justus D. Barnes, from The Great Train Robbery The Western is one of the classic American literary and film genres. ...


The foxes threaten a population of severely endangered Loggerhead Shrikes in residence on San Clemente Island. The Island Fox population on San Clemente Island has been negatively affected by trapping and removal or euthanasia of foxes by the United States Navy. Since 2000, the Navy has employed different management strategies: trapping and holding foxes during the shrike breeding season, the installation of an electric fence system around shrike habitats, and the use of shock collar systems.[8] Automobile fatalities have also been high on San Clemente, San Nicolas, and Santa Catalina Islands. Binomial name Lanius ludovicianus Linnaeus, 1766 The Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) is a passerine bird. ... The United States Navy (USN) is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for conducting naval operations. ...


Federal protection

In March of 2004, four subspecies of the Island Fox were classified as a federally protected endangered species: the Santa Cruz Island Fox, Santa Rosa Island Fox, San Miguel Island Fox and the Santa Catalina Island Fox.[9] The IUCN still lists them as "lower risk." The endangered Sea Otter An endangered species is a population of organisms (frequently but not always a taxonomic species) which is either (a) so few in number or (b) threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters that it is at risk of becoming extinct. ... The World Conservation Union or International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization dedicated to natural resource conservation. ...

Captive breeding programs are underway on all four islands with endangered Island Fox populations. This site is on Santa Rosa Island.
Captive breeding programs are underway on all four islands with endangered Island Fox populations. This site is on Santa Rosa Island.

The National Parks Service has initiated captive fox breeding programs on San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands, successfully increasing the numbers of resident foxes. In 2004, there were 38 San Miguel Island Foxes, all in captivity; 46 foxes in captivity on Santa Rosa Island and 7 in the wild (Golden Eagle predation prevented the release of captive foxes into the wild); Santa Cruz Island had 25 captive foxes and a stable wild population of around 100 foxes.[5] The Catalina Island Conservancy also runs a captive breeding program on Catalina Island; in 2002, there were 17 foxes in captive breeding programs and at least 161 wild foxes.[10] Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1783x1176, 750 KB)Windmill Canyon breeding site on Santa Rosa Island. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1783x1176, 750 KB)Windmill Canyon breeding site on Santa Rosa Island. ...


A key to the recovery of the Island Fox is the removal of the Golden Eagle from the Channel Islands, ecosystem restoration and disease control. To ensure survival of the Island Fox, Golden Eagles are being moved from the northern islands to the mainland. Maintaining and increasing the Bald Eagle population on the islands would help to displace the Golden Eagle. However, the program is extremely resource-intensive and is at risk for cancellation. Removal of feral pigs from Catalina Island and Santa Cruz Island is underway, removing both the golden eagles food and competition for the Island Fox. To eliminate the risk of disease, pets are not permitted in Channel Islands National Park. A vaccination program has been initiated to protect Catalina Island foxes from canine distemper.[11] The Channel Islands National Park is a national park that consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of the U.S. state of California, in the Pacific Ocean. ...


Because the Channel Islands are almost entirely owned and controlled by either the Catalina Island Conservancy or the federal government, the fox has a chance to receive the protection it needs, including constant supervision by interested officials without the ongoing threat of human encroachment on its habitat.


See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Urocyon littoralis

Binomial name Dusicyon australis (Kerr, 1792) The Falkland Island Fox (Dusicyon australis, formerly named Canis antarcticus), also known as the Warrah and occasionally as the Falkland Island Wolf or Antarctic Wolf and by Argentine writers as the Malvinas Zorro, was the only native land mammal of the Falkland Islands. ... Binomial name Pseudalopex fulvipes Synonyms Darwins Fox or Darwins Zorro (Pseudalopex fulvipes) is a small endangered canine from the genus Pseudalopex. ... Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... The Wikimedia Commons (also called Commons or Wikicommons) is a repository of free content images, sound and other multimedia files. ...

References

  1.  a Wayne, R.K. et al. 1991. A morphological and genetic-study of the Island fox, Urocyon littoralis. Evolution, 45:1849-1868
  2.  Collins, P.W. 1991. Interaction between Island Foxes (Urocyon littoralis) and Indians on islands off the coast of southern California. I Morphologic and archeological evidence of human assisted dispersal. Journal of Ethnobiology, 11:51-82
  3.  Gilbert, D.A. et al. 1991. Genetic fingerprinting reflects population differentiation in the California Channel Island fox. Nature 344:764-767
  4.  a b c d Morris, C.M. and Collins, P.W. 1995. Urocyon littoralis. Mammalian Species 489:1-7
  5.  a Coonan, T.J. et al. 2004. Island fox recovery program 2003 Annual Report. National Park Service, Channel Islands National Park
  6.  Channel Islands National Park's Island Fox Home Page
  7.  Roemer, G.W. et al. 2001. Feral pigs facilitate hyperpredation by golden eagles and indirectly cause the decline of the island fox. Animal Conservation 4:307-318<
  8.  United Sates Navy. 2000. San Clemente Island Range Complex Environmental Impact Study, San Clemente Loggerhead numbers on the increase
  9.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2004. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for the San Miguel Island Fox, Santa Rosa Island Fox, Santa Cruz Island Fox, and Santa Catalina Island Fox
  10.  Kohlmann, S. G. et al. 2003. Island fox recovery efforts on Santa Catalina Island, California, October 2001–October 2002, Annual Report. Ecological Restoration Department, Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, Avalon, California.
  11.  Catalina Island Conservancy. Catalina Island Fox

First title page, November 4, 1869 Nature is one of the oldest and most reputable scientific journals, first published on 4 November 1869. ... Image File history File links LinkFA-star. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Island Fox (1190 words)
From trapping efforts it appeared that the foxes located on the west end of the island (separated from the rest of the island by a narrow isthmus) had not been infected with the disease and were still present in good numbers.
Because of the catastrophic decline of foxes on the eastern 80% of Santa Catalina Island due to the canine distemper virus, this portion of the island is augmented with foxes from the west end of the island where foxes were not exposed to the disease.
The purpose of the facility is to produce foxes that can be released onto the eastern 80% of the island were the fox population was devastated by canine distemper virus.
Island Fox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1782 words)
The Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis) is a small fox that is native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California.
Four Island Fox subspecies were federally protected as an endangered species in 2004, and efforts to rebuild fox populations and restore the ecosystems of the Channel Islands are being undertaken.
Island Foxes are not intimidated by humans, as they have historically been at the top of the island food chain and had no natural predators.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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