PROTECTION STATUS: San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands foxes delisted, and Santa Catalina Island foxes duly downlisted from endangered to threatened, in 2016

YEAR LISTED: In 2004 all four fox subspecies first listed as endangered; in 2016 Santa Catalina Island foxes downlisted to threatened

YEAR DELISTED: 2016 (San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands foxes)

CRITICAL HABITAT: Never designated


RANGE: The Channel Islands off the Southern California coast

THREATS: Predation by invasive golden eagles, canine distemper transmitted by domestic dogs, habitat fragmentation due to development, and habitat degradation due to introduced livestock and nonnative game species

POPULATION TREND: The island fox declined catastrophically from the mid-1990s to the end of the century, but due to captive breeding, relocation of golden eagles, and reintroduction of bald eagles, the populations of its subspecies have since grown. The San Miguel island population went from 450 in 1994 to 15 in 1999, growing to 40 wild and 26 captive foxes by 2005; Santa Cruz Island foxes declined from 1,465 in 1994 to 60 in 2001, but had become 150 wild and 62 captive foxes by 2005; the Santa Rosa Island population declined from 1,780 in 1994 to 14 in 1999, with numbers rising to 32 wild and 34 captive foxes by 2005. Though the population of the Santa Catalina Island fox has been studied only intermittently, sightings had dramatically declined by the summer of 1999, but the subspecies' population has increased since its 2004 listing.

By early 2016, foxes on all four islands had recovered to the point that the Service proposed to remove San Miguel island fox, Santa Rosa island fox and Santa Cruz island fox from the endangered list al;together, and to downlist the Santa Catalina island fox from "endangered" to "threatened." From fewer than 100 foxes on three islands just 15 years before, the foxes' populations had grown to more than 700 on San Miguel Island; 1,200 on Santa Rosa Island; 2,100 on Santa Cruz Island; and 1,800 on Santa Catalina Island.

Photo courtesy Flickr/Jim Steelquist