This is an island “dwarf” fox, of California’s Channel Islands.
It is extremely cute.
Until recently, it was also extremely endangered.
But, island foxes managed to, quick like a fox, make “one of the fastest recoveries of any endangered species ever,” Treehugger reports. Here’s how they did it.
These adorable small foxes arrived on the islands as regular-sized gray foxes thousands and thousand of years ago, and eventually evolved into tinier, cuter foxes. They lived on the islands successfully for many years, until DDT killed the bald eagles that often hung out there.
With no bald eagles around, the golden eagles moved in. After all, the islands had a plentiful supply of sheep and feral pigs (descended, of course, from pigs that humans brought there) for the golden eagles to eat. So the eagles ate the sheep and pigs. And while they were at it, they ate the foxes. (Which we care more about because they are endangered, cute, and don’t get their own poop matted in their tails like sheep.)
Conservationists killed some sheep and feral pigs to keep them from tempting eagles to the area. Then they rounded up the eagles and sent them back to the mainland, where they could eat less adorable and endangered species. (This was not always easy. The last pair of golden eagles knew it had a good thing going — all those sheep and pigs and, sure, foxes, all to themselves! — and did not want to be captured. The NPS even tried dressing up a robotic dog to look like a fox. We’re not sure how that was supposed to work, exactly, but doesn’t really matter, because it did not.)
Then they (the conservationists, not the eagles) bred a lot of adorable foxes.
Now, there are many foxes — thousands of foxes. There are 1,300 on one island alone. It’s basically a dream-land for the modern manic pixie dream girl who knows that birds are so over and foxes are so, so in.