Step 28: Over the Top to Cherry Canyon Trail
I pass some cattle sign, then I see the tiny herd in the distance. The top of the island is covered with small spherical stones that look a little like taconite pellets from Duluth MN.
Island Fox kennels are in the distance of that last photo. That's where they they saved the lives of the last island foxes on Santa Rosa. After the NPS started taking over in the 1990's, the island foxes started dying off. It wasn't a disease. What was it? They did some hard research. They live-trapped and radio-collared the foxes. They found the answer. Golden Eagles were eating them.
Here's how the problem developed: Bald Eagles used to thrive on the islands. Bald eagles eat fish and are territorial. They chase Golden eagles away. DDT killed off the Bald Eagles. Golden Eagles moved in. Their favorite food was feral pigs. The NPS wiped out the feral pigs for good reasons. Then the golden eagles started eating foxes. Solution: live-trap the foxes and keep them safe, then live-trap the golden eagles and transport them to distant parts of mainland CA that need them. Then when the foxes have bred back to viable numbers, release them to the wild again. In the meantime, deer mice overpopulated and now there's a hantavirus problem...
THAT'S WHY PARKS NEED RANGERS!! Not to mess around collecting a $15/day use fee that doesn't pay for the time to collect it.