Notes on the Channel Islands, California Killing Fields

In the 1920's the sheep were removed from San Nicolas island and the fox population plummeted. Then tens of thousands of goats were shot and left rot on Catalina island and the pigs over populated and the fox went into decline. This was repeated again on San Clemente island with similar results. Then 50,000 sheep were shot on Santa Cruz island and the fox is going extinct. The fox is already extinct in the wild on Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands.

Back when these properties were privately owned the fox population thrived and there was a greater diversity of native plants and animals. Now it's an ecological disaster costing the tax payer 10's of millions of dollars.

The Santa Cruz island pig is almost a twin to the Ossabaw island pig that is protected because of it's importance to medical science in searching for a cure to diabetes.

Years before the decline of the foxes the N.P.S. and T.N.C. had plans to remove all non-native plants and animals.* But there seems some connection between grazing animals and the fox. During the periods that they coexisted the fox populations were healthy.

Weather the grazing animals stopped non-native plants like fennel from destroying habitat.

Or provided feed to the fox who became more of a scavenger when plentiful grazing animals died.

Or gave predators such a huge selection of prey animals that the fox was seldom made a lunch treat, no one can say for sure.

But the leading causes for extinction on an archipelago are habitat loss, isolation and inbreeding.

Down at the bottom of this list for extinction is catastrophe which would better describe predation by eagles. There is a wonderful book called "song of the Dodo" which has a list of reasons animals go extinct on islands.

*Tim Setnica the former superintendent of the Channel Islands Nationals park admitted in an article to the Santa Barbara Independent that the studies tying the decline of the fox to wild pigs was a cooked study designed to get funding. A copy of this article is posted at chiapa.org.

There are many other mentions by the N.P.S. that the pigs were to be removed, long before eagles were blaimed. On Santa Rosa island the pigs had already been removed so the N.P.S. is blaming deer and elk.

What we know for sure is before the N.P.S. took these properties the fox populations were thriving.

How these properties became park

The N.P.S. and T.N.C. spent more than a decade harassing land owners, their guests and employees.

They forced sale of the properties for far below market value. Trespass slaughter of livestock was a common practice conducted by T.N.C. who would regularly trespassed on to the Ghrienie property and shoot hundreds of livestock.

In one instance highly covered in the local media the N.P.S. boated a team of riflemen from Glendale S.W.A.T. to the Conservancy side of the island. Then a T.N.C. biologist trucked them to the Ghrienie property and they killed an estimated 700 animals while trespassing.

In this instance a former employee of the Ghrienie property video documented the event. Showing that they shot only adult animals, letting the babies starve. I was an eye witness to this event.

In response to the public Diane Devine of the Nature Conservancy stated in The Santa Barbara Independent the the Nature Conservancy prefers to shoot the animals and leave them lay so they will decompose valuable nutrients back into the soil...

That's just the tip of the iceberg!