- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) - Native foxes on islands off the California coast were once on the brink of extinction.

But after decades of effort to save them, the island fox is now thriving, officials say.

Federal wildlife officials may even be ready to remove the bushy-tailed, housecat-sized animal from the endangered species list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service planned what it termed a major announcement on Friday about the conservation status of four subspecies of the fox that live on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina islands.

Disease and predators nearly eliminated the native foxes on those islands. But a decade of captive breeding programs, predator removal, vaccinations and other medical efforts helped bring them back.

In recent years, the populations were stable or increasing and about 90 percent of the foxes were surviving on those islands, according to the park service.

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