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Keywords:

  • California Channel Islands;
  • island fox;
  • mortality;
  • movement;
  • road-kill;
  • survival;
  • Urocyon littoralis;
  • vehicle

Abstract

Roads generate a variety of influences on wildlife populations; however, little is known about the effects of roads on endemic wildlife on islands. Specifically, road-kills of island foxes (Urocyon littoralis) on San Clemente Island (SCI), Channel Islands, California, USA are a concern for resource managers. To determine the effects of roads on island foxes, we radiocollared foxes using a 3-tiered sampling design to represent the entire population in the study area, a sub-population near roads, and a sub-population away from roads on SCI. We examined annual survival rates using nest-survival models, causes of mortalities, and movements for each sample. We found the population had high annual survival (0.90), although survival declined with use of road habitat, particularly for intermediate-aged foxes. Foxes living near roads suffered lower annual survival (0.76), resulting from high frequencies of road-kills (7 of 11 mortalities). Foxes living away from roads had the highest annual survival (0.97). Road-kill was the most prominent cause of mortality detected on SCI, which we estimated as killing 3–8% of the population in the study area annually. Based on movements, we were unable to detect any responses by foxes that minimized their risks from roads. The probabilities of road-kills increased with use of the road habitat, volume of traffic, and decreasing road sinuosity. We recommend that managers should attempt to reduce road-kills by deterring or excluding foxes from entering roads, and attempting to modify behaviors of motorists to be vigilant for foxes. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.