Recovery of island foxes occurred relatively quickly: within 10 years populations of all four endangered subspecies grew from levels nearing extinction to almost recovered, and the primary threats to the wild populations had been mitigated. The effectiveness of the recovery actions was enhanced by the cooperation among management agencies, scientists, and the public in developing and implementing recovery strategies. The most tangible example of this cooperation was the consistent work of a voluntary group, the Island Fox Conservation Working Group (IFCWG), a collaboration of representatives from agency, academic, and non-profit organizations. The IFCWG began meeting before island foxes were officially listed as endangered, and was instrumental in the development and evaluation of island fox recovery actions. Listing of island foxes came relatively late in recovery, and was accompanied by the incorporation of the IFCWG into a somewhat uniquely constructed US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recovery team. This chapter discusses the importance of working groups and collaboration in endangered species recovery, the costs and benefits of formal Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing to the recovery efforts, and the overall implications of listing on island fox recovery.
Stakeholders and recovery
The existing conservation and land protection mandates in place provided managers and biologists the relative freedom to implement various recovery actions with nearly full support of all of the landowners within the entire range of the species. This circumstance, fortuitous for island fox recovery, is likely the exception rather than the rule for conservation of endangered species.