Other Mammals - Sounds Wild
Red Fox Gone


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Red fox gone

A red fox approaches a visitor to Round Island in Bristol Bay. Foxes here are habituated to people and are pretty tame. Red foxes are able to reach Round Island in winter on sea ice, and colonized this island on their own. But foxes were introduced to hundreds of islands in Alaska in the 1920s for fur farming, and they were largely abandoned when the industry collapsed during the depression. Foxes were introduced to about 180 islands in Southeast Alaska, 73 islands in and around Prince William Sound, and 51 islands around Kodiak. None remain. Over time, after the fur farmers quit caring for the foxes, they disappeared. Various reasons contributed: they depleted the available food, they were outcompeted by otters and other native predators, and they were eaten by bears and other predators. While foxes are abundant across most of Alaska and in the Yukon and British Columbia, they don't seem to do well on these coastal islands.

Foxes were introduced to 88 islands in the Aleutian chain, and on many of these islands they thrived after they were abandoned. The difference was nesting seabirds and unfortunately, they devastated vast numbers - entire colonies of island nesting sea birds. Introduced foxes have since been eradicated on dozens of these islands, and large and sometimes spectacular increases in bird numbers have been documented.