Island fox

The island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is a small fox that is native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. There are six subspecies, each unique to the island it lives on, reflecting its evolutionary history.

Island fox[1]
Urocyon littoralis (Island fox) FWS 001
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Urocyon
U. littoralis
Binomial name
Urocyon littoralis
(Baird, 1857)
Subspecies of island fox
Google Range Map

Taxonomy and evolution

Skull of an island fox (right) compared with that of a gray fox (left)
The skull of an island fox (right) compared with a skull of the related gray fox (left).

The island fox shares the Urocyon genus with the mainland gray fox, the species from which it is descended. Its small size is a result of insular dwarfism, a form of allopatric speciation. Because the island fox is geographically isolated, it has no immunity to parasites and diseases brought in from the mainland and is especially vulnerable to those that the domestic dog may carry. In addition, predation by the golden eagle 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. Radio collars are being attached to foxes in an effort to track and locate the young foxes. To date these efforts have been largely successful.[3]

There are six subspecies of the island fox,[1] each of which is native to a specific Channel Island, and which evolved there independently of the others. The subspecies are:[1]

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.

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.[4][5] 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.[6][7]

Vulpes littoralis
Engraving of the island fox from the Pacific Railroad survey of 1855

Other names for the island fox include coast fox, short-tailed fox, island gray fox, Channel Islands fox, Channel Islands gray fox, California Channel Islands fox and insular gray fox.


The island fox is significantly smaller than the gray fox and is probably the smallest fox in North America, averaging slightly smaller than the swift and kit foxes. Typically, the head-and-body length is 48–50 cm (19–19.5 in), shoulder height 12–15 cm (4.5–6 in), and the tail is 11–29 cm (4.5–11.5 in) long, which is notably shorter than the 27–44 cm (10.5–17.5 in) tail of the gray fox. This is due to the fact that the island fox generally has two fewer tail vertebrae than the gray fox.[8] The island fox weighs between 1 and 2.8 kg (2.2 and 6.2 lb). The male is always larger than the female.[9] The largest of the subspecies occurs on Santa Catalina Island and the smallest on Santa Cruz Island.[9]

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.[9] 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. A brown phase, with the grey and black fur of the body replaced by a sandy brown and a deeper brown, may occur in the San Clemente Island and San Nicolas Island populations.[10] It is unclear if this is a true color phase, a change that occurs with age, or possibly a change that occurs because of interactions with Opuntia cactus spines that become embedded in the pelt.[10]

Urocyon littoralis pup
An island fox kit nestled in the brush


The island fox typically forms monogamous breeding pairs, which are frequently seen together beginning in January and through the breeding season, from late February to early March. The gestation period is 50–63 days. The female island fox gives birth in a den, a typical litter having one to five pups, with an average of two or three. Pups 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.[9]

Ecology and behavior

Urocyon littoralis with prey*corrected*
A nighttime shot of an island fox with three mice in its jaws.

Its preferred habitat is complex layer vegetation with a high density of woody, perennially fruiting shrubs. The fox lives in all of the island biomes including temperate forest, temperate grassland and chaparral, with no island supporting more than 1,000 foxes. The island fox eats fruits, insects, birds, eggs, crabs, lizards, and small mammals, including deer mice. The fox tends to move around by itself, rather than in packs. It is generally nocturnal, albeit with peaks of activity at dawn and dusk. Activity also fluctuates with the season; it is more active during the day in summer than it is in winter.[9]

The island fox is not intimidated by humans, although at first may show aggression. It is quite easy to tame and is generally docile.[9] The island fox communicates using auditory, olfactory and visual signals. A dominant fox uses vocalizations, staring, and ear flattening to cause another fox to submit. Signs of dominance and submission are visual, such as facial expression and body posture.[11] Its main vocalizations are barking and growling.[11] The island fox marks territory with urine and feces.

Conservation status and Federal Protection

The golden eagle is four times the size of the island fox and can easily prey on it.

In March 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.[12] As of 2013, the IUCN lists the entire species as near threatened, an improvement from its previous status of "critically endangered".[2] A decline in island fox populations was identified in the 1990s. On San Miguel Island, the decline began in 1994, with 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 foxes may have numbered more than 1,500 in 1994, but were reduced to 14 animals by 2000.[13][14] 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.[14]

Golden eagle predation, discovered when foxes were radio-collared and monitored, proved to be the cause of the high mortality rates.[15] The golden eagle was an uncommon visitor to the Channel Islands before the 1990s according to data gathered by Dr. Lyndal Laughrin of the University of California Santa Cruz Island Reserve, and the first golden eagle nest was recorded on Santa Cruz Island in 1999.[16] Biologists propose that the eagle may have been attracted to the islands in the 1960s after the decline of the bald eagle. The golden eagle replaced the bald eagle and began to feed on feral pigs following the decimation of the local bald eagle population due to DDT exposure in the 1950s—the bald eagle would have deterred the golden eagle from settling on the islands while it subsisted on fish.[15]

The feral pigs on Santa Rosa were exterminated by the National Park Service in the early 1990s, which removed one of the golden eagle's food sources. The golden eagle then began to prey on the island fox population. Feral pigs on Santa Cruz Island and deer and elk on Santa Rosa Island were introduced almost 70 years prior to island fox decline, therefore, the golden eagle most likely did not seek these animals as alternative prey.[17] This has occurred most likely as a result of a process known as 'apparent competition'. In this process, a predator, like the golden eagle, feeds on at least two prey, for example, the island fox and feral pigs. One prey item is adapted to high predation pressure and supports the predator population (i.e. pigs), whereas the other prey item (i.e. the island fox) is poorly adapted to predation and declines as a consequence of the predation pressure. It has also been proposed that the complete removal of golden eagles may be the only action that could save three subspecies of the island fox from extinction.[18] However, the pigs on Santa Cruz Island were killed by the Nature Conservancy under the idea that they brought the eagles to the foxes.[19]

Introduced diseases or parasites can devastate island fox populations. Because the island fox is isolated, it has no immunity to parasites and diseases brought in from the mainland and are especially vulnerable to those the domestic dog may carry. A canine distemper outbreak in 1998 killed approximately 90% of Santa Catalina Island's foxes, reducing the population from 1,300 to 103 in 2000.[16] A vaccination program has been initiated to protect Catalina Island foxes from canine distemper.[20] After several years of carefully trapping the foxes and vaccinating them against distemper and rabies, their population has reached 1,717 in 2015, surpassing the pre-disease population of about 1,300.[21] Scientists believe the distemper virus was introduced by a pet dog or a raccoon from the mainland that hitched a ride on a boat or a barge.[22] To eliminate the risk of disease, pets are not permitted in Channel Islands National Park.

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,[23] also has had a negative effect on fox populations.

San Clemente Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis clementae) at Santa Barbara Zoo 2016-01-27
San Clemente Island Fox at Santa Barbara Zoo as part of a Species Survival Plan

The foxes threaten a population of the severely endangered San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike in residence on San Clemente Island. The island fox population 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.[24] With the gradual recovery of the shrike population on San Clemente Island, the Navy no longer controls the foxes.

The populations of Santa Cruz island foxes, San Miguel island foxes, and Santa Rosa island foxes have dramatically rebounded from lows in 2000 of 70 for the Santa Cruz foxes and 15 each on San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands.[25] The Catalina Island Conservancy runs a captive breeding program on Catalina Island.[26] On September 14, 2012, the US Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft recovery plan for the San Miguel island fox, Santa Rosa island fox, Santa Cruz island fox, and the Santa Catalina island fox.[27] By 2012, the Catalina Island Conservancy determined that there were 1,500 Santa Catalina island foxes and the population was stabilized.[28] As of 2015, there were 520 native foxes on San Miguel and 874 on Santa Rosa, according to the group Friends of the Island Fox. The number of foxes on Santa Cruz Island had risen to 1,750. The U. S Fish and Wildlife Service recommended delisting Santa Cruz, San Miguel and Santa Rosa island foxes in a major success of the Endangered Species Act. However, they are recommending that the Santa Catalina island be reclassified from endangered to threatened, because of the threat of diseases on this heavily visited island.[21]

Two other subspecies on San Nicolas and San Clemente aren't endangered. There were 263 foxes on San Nicolas and 1,230 on San Clemente.

Because the Channel Islands are almost entirely owned and controlled by either the Catalina Island Conservancy, The Nature 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.

The fox 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 fox.

Rene Vellanoweth, an archaeologist, believes that inbreeding depression can be managed by mixing the different island fox subspecies populations much as the indigenous peoples did, by moving them from island to island, creating a higher genetic diversity and assisting them in recovery.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b Coonan, T.; Ralls, K.; Hudgens, B.; Cypher, B. & Boser, C. (2013). "Urocyon littoralis". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T22781A13985603. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-2.RLTS.T22781A13985603.en. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  3. ^ Beck, Christina (12 August 2016). "Endangered no more: California's island foxes make a surprising rebound". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  4. ^ Wayne, R.K.; et al. (1991). "A morphological and genetic-study of the Island fox, Urocyon littoralis". Evolution. 45 (8): 1849–1868. doi:10.2307/2409836. JSTOR 2409836.
  5. ^ Gilbert, D.A.; et al. (1991). "Genetic fingerprinting reflects population differentiation in the California Channel Island fox". Nature. 344 (6268): 764–767. doi:10.1038/344764a0. PMID 1970419.
  6. ^ Collins, P.W. (1991). "Interaction between the island foxes (Urocyon littoralis) and Indians on islands off the coast of southern California. I Morphologic and archaeological evidence of human assisted dispersal". Journal of Ethnobiology. 11: 51–82.
  7. ^ Courtney A. Hofman; Torben C. Rick; Melissa T. R. Hawkins; W. Chris Funk; Katherine Ralls; Christina L. Boser; Paul W. Collins; Tim Coonan; Julie L. King; Scott A. Morrison; Seth D. Newsome; T. Scott Sillett; Robert C. Fleischer; Jesus E. Maldonado (February 25, 2015). "Mitochondrial Genomes Suggest Rapid Evolution of Dwarf California Channel Islands Foxes (Urocyon littoralis)". PLoS One. 10 (2): e0118240. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118240. PMC 4340941. PMID 25714775.
  8. ^ Grambo, Rebecca L (1995). The World of the Fox. Vancouver: Greystone Books. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-87156-377-4.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Moore, C.M.; Collins, P.W. (1995). "Mammalian Species - Urocyon littoralis" (PDF). 489: 1–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-22. Retrieved 2011-09-16.
  10. ^ a b Sillero-Zubiri, Claudio; Hoffman, Michael; and MacDonald David W. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals, and Dogs: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN; 2004. p98.
  11. ^ a b "Island Fox". Channel Islands National Park. National Park Services. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ Roemer, G.W.; D.K. Garcelon; T.J. Coonan & C. Schwemm (1994). W.L. Halvorsen & G.J. Maender, eds. "The Fourth California Islands Symposium: Update on the Status of Resources". Santa Barbara, California: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History: 387–400, The use of capture–recapture methods for estimating, monitoring, and conserving island fox populations.
  14. ^ a b Coonan, T.J. et al. (2004) Island fox recovery program 2003 Annual Report. National Park Service, Channel Islands National Park
  15. ^ a b Roemer, G. W.; C. J. Donlan & F. Courchamp (2002). "Golden eagles, feral pigs and insular carnivores: How exotic species turn native predators into prey". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 99 (2): 791–796. doi:10.1073/pnas.012422499. PMC 117384. PMID 11752396.
  16. ^ a b Channel Islands National Park's Island Fox Home Page. (2010-08-13). Retrieved on 2011-09-16.
  17. ^ Collins, P. W., and B. C. Latta. 2006. Nesting Season Diet of Golden Eagles on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands, Santa Barbara County, California. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Technical Reports — No. 3.
  18. ^ Courchamp, F.; R. Woodroffe & G. Roemer (2003). "Removing protected populations to save endangered species". Science. 302 (5650): 1532. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.1089492. PMID 14645839.
  19. ^ Dawn, Karen (2008). Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals (1st ed.). HarperCollins. p. 300.
  20. ^ Recovery of the Catalina Island Fox. Catalina Island Conservancy
  21. ^ a b Christine Armario (February 12, 2016). "Feds: Remove 3 California Foxes From Endangered Species List". Associated Press. Los Angeles. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  22. ^ Louis Sahagun (2012-01-19). "Catalina Island fox makes astounding comeback". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  23. ^ Chang, Alicia (2007-09-21). "Study: Catalina bison aren't purebred". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  24. ^ United States Navy. 2000. San Clemente Island Range Complex Environmental Impact Study, San Clemente Loggerhead numbers on the increase Archived 2007-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Flaccus, Gillian (20 May 2013). "Rare island fox on the rebound from near-extinction". Bakersfield Now. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  26. ^ S. G. Kohlmann 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.
  27. ^ "Draft Recovery Plan for Four Subspecies of Island Fox (Urocyon littorialis)" (PDF). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  28. ^ "Catalina fox population stabilizes, still endangered". KABC-TV/DT. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  29. ^ Levy, Sharon (2010). "Island Fox Paradox" (PDF). BioScience. 60 (5): 332–336. doi:10.1525/bio.2010.60.5.3.

External links

Blind Island State Park

Blind Island State Park is a public recreation area consisting of three-acre (1.2 ha) Blind Island in San Juan County, Washington. The island lies off Shaw Island near the entrance to Blind Bay and is part of San Juan Islands National Monument. It has about 1,280 feet (390 m) of saltwater shoreline and is part of the Cascadia Marine Trail, with all campsites restricted to visitors arriving in non-motorized watercraft. It became a state park in 1970 under lease from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and is cooperatively managed by the BLM and Washington State Parks.In the early 1900s, a man named John Fox built a small house and storage sheds on Blind Island. Fox was an immigrant from Germany, where he had made his living as a fisherman. After his divorce from Katherine Fox Dickman, he moved to the island where he lived as a fisherman and tilled a small garden spot, evidence of which still remains today. Fox was joined by his son, also named John Fox, after World War I. Fox dug several holes into the rock, evidently to be used as cisterns. The elder Fox is buried on the island. There is a small spring, around which a concrete retainer was built that is still in place. The water is unsafe to drink. All buildings were removed in 1972 due to their unsafe conditions.


The biological family Canidae

(from Latin, canis, “dog”) is a lineage of carnivorans that includes domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, dingoes, and many other extant and extinct dog-like mammals. A member of this family is called a canid (, ).The cat-like feliforms and dog-like caniforms emerged within the Carnivoramorpha 43 million years before present. The caniforms included the fox-like genus Leptocyon whose various species existed from 34 million years ago (Mya) before branching 11.9 Mya into Vulpini (foxes) and Canini (canines).Canids are found on all continents, having arrived independently or accompanied human beings over extended periods of time. Canids vary in size from the 2-m-long (6 ft 7 in) gray wolf to the 24-cm-long (9.4 in) fennec fox. The body forms of canids are similar, typically having long muzzles, upright ears, teeth adapted for cracking bones and slicing flesh, long legs, and bushy tails. They are mostly social animals, living together in family units or small groups and behaving co-operatively. Typically, only the dominant pair in a group breeds, and a litter of young is reared annually in an underground den. Canids communicate by scent signals and vocalizations. They are very intelligent. One canid, the domestic dog, long ago entered into a partnership with humans and today remains one of the most widely kept domestic animals.

Channel Islands (California)

The Channel Islands form an eight-island archipelago along the Santa Barbara Channel in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. Five of the islands are part of Channel Islands National Park, and the waters surrounding these islands make up Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The islands were first colonized by the Chumash and Tongva Native Americans 13,000 years ago, who were then displaced by Spaniards who used the islands for fishing and agriculture. The U.S. military uses the islands as training grounds, weapons test sites, and as a strategic defensive location. The Channel Islands and the surrounding waters house a diverse ecosystem with many endemic species and subspecies. The islands harbor 150 unique species of plant that are found only on the Islands and nowhere else in the world.

Channel Islands spotted skunk

The Channel Island spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis amphiala) is an insular endemic carnivore and a subspecies of the western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis). Little is known about their exact variations from the mainland spotted skunk and variations between locations, resolution of which awaits further genetic and morphologic evaluation. The skunk is only currently found on two islands off the southern coast of California (Santa Cruz Island, and Santa Rosa Island, where its occurrence was once thought to be rare but recently experienced a population surge in the 1990s). Its presence has been recorded on San Miguel Island, but it has since been declared extinct in that area. The Channel Island skunk is one of two terrestrial carnivores on the islands, the other being the island fox. It is designated as a species of special concern by the state of California.

Cozumel fox

The Cozumel fox is an undescribed species of fox in the genus Urocyon, which is apparently close to extinction or already extinct. It is (or was until recently) found on the island of Cozumel, Mexico. The last reported sighting was in 2001, but surveys focusing on this species have not yet been carried out. The Cozumel fox, which has not been scientifically described to date, is a dwarf form like the island fox but slightly larger, being up to three-quarters the size of the gray fox. It had been isolated on the island for at least 5,000 years, and probably far longer. This would indicate that the colonization of the island of Cozumel by Urocyon predates that of humans.

Falkland Islands wolf

The Falkland Islands wolf (Dusicyon australis), also known as the warrah ( WAH-rə or WAH-rah) and occasionally as the Falkland Islands dog, Falkland Islands fox, or Antarctic wolf, was the only native land mammal of the Falkland Islands. This endemic canid became extinct in 1876, the first known canid to have become extinct in historical times. It was the only modern species in the genus Dusicyon.

Traditionally it had been supposed that the most closely related genus was Lycalopex, including the culpeo, which has been introduced to the Falkland Islands in modern times. However, in 2009, a cladistic analysis of DNA identified the Falkland Island wolf's closest living relative as the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus)—an unusually long-legged, fox-like South American canid, from which it separated about 6.7 million years ago.The Falkland Islands wolf existed on both West and East Falkland, but Charles Darwin was uncertain if they were differentiated varieties. Its fur had a tawny colour and the tip of the tail was white. Its diet is unknown, but, due to the absence of native rodents on the Falklands, probably consisted of ground-nesting birds such as geese and penguins, seal pups, and insects, as well as seashore scavenging. It has sometimes been said that it may have lived in burrows.


Foxes are small-to-medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging to several genera of the family Canidae. Foxes have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or brush).

Twelve species belong to the monophyletic "true foxes" group of genus Vulpes. Approximately another 25 current or extinct species are always or sometimes called foxes; these foxes are either part of the paraphyletic group of the South American foxes, or of the outlying group, which consists of bat-eared fox, gray fox, and island fox. Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica. By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) with about 47 recognized subspecies. The global distribution of foxes, together with their widespread reputation for cunning, has contributed to their prominence in popular culture and folklore in many societies around the world. The hunting of foxes with packs of hounds, long an established pursuit in Europe, especially in the British Isles, was exported by European settlers to various parts of the New World.

Fox Island, Falkland Islands

Fox Island is one of the Falkland Islands. It is near West Falkland, to its west, near Spring Point and Dunnose Head in Queen Charlotte Bay.

Gray fox

The gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), or grey fox, is an omnivorous mammal of the family Canidae, widespread throughout North America and Central America. This species and its only congener, the diminutive Channel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis), are the only living members of the genus Urocyon, which is considered to be the most basal of the living canids. Though it was once the most common fox in the eastern United States, and still is found there, human advancement and deforestation allowed the red fox to become more dominant. The Pacific States still have the gray fox as a dominant. It is the only American canid that can climb trees. Its specific epithet cinereoargenteus means "ashen silver".

List of islands of Ontario

This is a list of islands of Ontario.

McNeil Island

McNeil Island is an island in the northwest United States in south Puget Sound, located southwest of Tacoma, Washington. With a land area of 6.6319 square miles (17.177 km2), it lies just north of Anderson Island; Fox Island is to the north, across Carr Inlet, and to the west, separated from Key Peninsula by Pitt Passage. The Washington mainland lies to the east, across the south basin of Puget Sound.

The island has been owned by the government for most of its history; it was a federal penitentiary for over a century, from 1875 to 1981. It was turned over to the Washington State Department of Corrections and became the "McNeil Island Corrections Center," until it closed in 2011. It was the last remaining island prison in the country to be accessible only by air and sea.In November 2010, the state announced closure plans for 2011, saving $14 million. A detention center for violent sexual offenders remains on the island.

The McNeil Island Historical Society was chartered in 2010 shortly after the closing of the prison for the purpose of educating the public about, and preserving, the rich history of McNeil Island.

Population viability analysis

Population viability analysis (PVA) is a species-specific method of risk assessment frequently used in conservation biology.

It is traditionally defined as the process that determines the probability that a population will go extinct within a given number of years.

More recently, PVA has been described as a marriage of ecology and statistics that brings together species characteristics and environmental variability to forecast population health and extinction risk. Each PVA is individually developed for a target population or species, and consequently, each PVA is unique. The larger goal in mind when conducting a PVA is to ensure that the population of a species is self-sustaining over the long term.

Robert Bradford Fox

Robert Bradford Fox (1918–1985) was an anthropologist and leading historian on the prehispanic Philippines.

In 1958, Fox led a National Museum team in conducting extensive excavations on two sites at Calatagan, Batangas, in what may be considered the first systematic excavation involving the National Museum in the country. His report, published in 1959, was based on artifacts and information derived from 505 graves in two sites known as Kay Tomas and Pulong Bakaw. In the 1960s, by then the head of the Anthropology Division of the National Museum of the Philippines, he led a six-year archaeological research project in Palawan, focusing mainly on the caves and rockshelters of Lipuun Point in the southern part of the island (Fox 1970). Its most outstanding site is the Tabon Cave complex, the large main cave delivered the only Pleistocene human fossils found in the Philippines to date. The fossil finds include a skullcap, jaw bones, teeth and several other fragmented bones. Dubbed as the "Tabon Man", the finds represent more than just one individual. Their age has been determined using radiometric dating, giving dates between 16500 ±2000 B.P for the skull cap and 48,000 ±11-10,000 B.P. for a tibia fragment.Fox actively served the National Museum of the Philippines from 1948 to 1975. In 1975, while serving as consultant to the Philippine President on anthropological matters and as Dean of Brent School in Baguio City, Philippines, he suffered a stroke which impaired his speech and right arm, preventing him from pursuing his teaching and research work. Subsequent strokes left him confined to home until his death in 1985. Besides his service with the National Museum, Fox taught at the University of the Philippines and served as Presidential Assistant for National Minorities. An obituary appeared in The Journal of Asian Studies.

Santa Catalina Island (California)

Santa Catalina Island (Tongva: Pimugna or Pimu) is a rocky island off the coast of the U.S. state of California in the Gulf of Santa Catalina. The island name is often shortened to Catalina Island or just Catalina. The island is 22 mi (35 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) across at its greatest width. The island is located about 29 mi (47 km) south-southwest of Long Beach, California. The highest point on the island is 2,097 ft (639 m) atop Mount Orizaba. Santa Catalina is part of the Channel Islands of California archipelago and lies within Los Angeles County.

Catalina was originally settled by Native Americans who called the island Pimugna or Pimu and referred to themselves as Pimugnans or Pimuvit. The first Europeans to arrive on Catalina claimed it for the Spanish Empire. Over the years, territorial claims to the island transferred to Mexico and then to the United States. During this time, the island was sporadically used for smuggling, otter hunting, and gold-digging, before successfully being developed into a tourist destination by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. beginning in the 1920s. Since the 1970s, most of the island has been administered by the Catalina Island Conservancy.

Its total population in the 2010 census was 4,096 people, 90 percent of whom live in the island's only incorporated city, Avalon. The second center of population is the unincorporated village of Two Harbors at the island's isthmus. Development occurs also at the smaller settlements of Rancho Escondido and Middle Ranch. The remaining population is scattered over the island between the two population centers.

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island (Spanish: Isla Santa Cruz, Chumash: Limuw) is the largest of the eight islands in the Channel Islands and also the largest island in California, located off the coast of California. The island, in the northern group of the Channel Islands, is 22 miles (35 km) long and from 2 to 6 miles (3.2 to 9.7 km) wide with an area of 61,764.6 acres (249.952 km2). Santa Cruz Island is located within Santa Barbara County, California. The coastline has steep cliffs, gigantic sea caves, coves, and sandy beaches. Defined by the United States Census Bureau as Block 3000, Block Group 3, Census Tract 29.10 of Santa Barbara County, the 2000 census showed an official population of two persons. The highest peak is Devils Peak, at 2450+ feet (747+ m). It was the largest privately owned island off the continental United States but is currently jointly owned by the National Park Service (24%), and the Nature Conservancy (76%).A central valley splits the island along the Santa Cruz Island Fault, with volcanic rock on the north and older sedimentary rock on the south. This volcanic rock was heavily fractured during the uplift phase that formed the island and over a hundred large sea caves have been carved into the resulting faults. One of these, Painted Cave, is among the world's largest.Santa Cruz Island is home to some animals and plants found nowhere else on earth, including for instance the Santa Cruz Island fox (Urocyon littoralis santacruzae), a subspecies of the island fox.

Sitkinak Island

Sitkinak Island is an island of the Kodiak Archipelago of the state of Alaska, United States. It lies south of the southern tip of Kodiak Island in the western part of the Gulf of Alaska. Tugidak Island lies to its west. The two islands are the largest components of the Trinity Islands of Alaska. The Trinity Islands, and thus Sitkinak, are part of the Gulf of Alaska unit of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Sitkinak Island has a land area of 235.506 km² (90.929 sq mi) and no resident population.Cattle Operation

Bob Mudd runs a totally free range cattle operation with his son, Nathan. They have about 600 head which are slaughtered and processed on the island in late fall to sell as "Beyond Organic" beef. The unique herd of cattle have thrived on the eastern and western islands of Sitkinak since 1937. It is one of the few pristine islands in the world to support this rare species of cattle. More information can be found at Alaska Meat Company, Sitkinak Webspace, and other websites that chronicle past military activity on Sitkinak.

There is a healthy population of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) on the island. Fox pelages varies widely with many cross individuals and cross variants.


The genus Urocyon (from the Greek word for "tailed dog") is a genus that contains two (or possibly three; see next paragraph) living Western Hemisphere foxes in the family Canidae; the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and the closely related island fox (Urocyon littoralis), which is a dwarf cousin of the gray fox; as well as one fossil species, Urocyon progressus.Urocyon and the raccoon dog are the only canids able to climb trees. Urocyon is one of the oldest fox genera still in existence. Evidence of the Cozumel fox, a disputed extinct or critically endangered third species, was found on the island of Cozumel, Mexico. The Cozumel fox, which has not been scientifically described to date, is a dwarf form like the island fox, but a bit larger, being up to three-quarters the size of the gray fox.The genus Urocyon is considered to be the most basal of the living canids.

Western spotted skunk

The western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis) is a spotted skunk of western North America

Wildlife of the Channel Islands of California

The wildlife of the Channel Islands of California is wide and diverse, including many endemic species. While the land wildlife is slightly limited, there being only one large, naturally predatory, and native mammal, the small island fox, marine life can include anything from kelp forests to great white sharks.

Extant Carnivora species

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