There was once a time that the future looked bleak for the dwarf foxes that live on the Channel Islands, off the coast of Southern California.
Up until a few decades ago, the distinctly diminutive species had no natural predator -- but as the islands' bald eagles began to die off there from the insecticide DDT, they were replaced by Golden eagles, which did have a taste for the small foxes. By the mid-1990s, dwarf fox numbers had plummeted from the thousands to a few as dozens -- prompting them to be listed as a ‘critically endangered' species.
But just a few short years later, conservation tactics put in place to stave of their extinction did more than save them -- they led to one of the fastest recoveries of any animal in the history of the Endangered Species Act.
In a multi-pronged approach, officials from the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy launched several captive breeding programs to bolster the fox's numbers. Meanwhile, wildlife officers carefully scoured the islands for Golden eagles, capturing and relocating the invasive predators back to the mainland.