The Catalina Island Shrew had not been seen in over 15 years and was feared to be extinct, but new sightings have confirmed that it is still present on the California island. Back in 1996, it was listed as a Species of Special Concern by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
However, a new sighting by researchers with the Catalina Island Conservancy has put the extinction rumors to rest as the mouse-like creature with a long snout was observed with a remote camera for the first time since 2004.
Emily Hamblen, who is a Conservancy wildlife biologist, stated how excited they were to rediscover the creature, “My first thought when we saw that image on the camera is that it is gratifying to see all of our hard work surrounding this species finally pay off—and thank goodness it’s not extinct.” “I thought, and really hoped, that they still existed somewhere on the island.” “Animals are incredibly resilient, and it is amazing to see that they are still here.”
She noted that the researchers had tried on several other occasions to document the creature and even snapped over 200,000 photographs but the shrew was never seen so this new sighting is incredibly exciting.
In order to get the most recent photograph, they put out numerous remote camera traps at 28 different locations around the island with the cameras facing downwards from the top of an upside-down bucket that had bait inside with four entrances/exits. They did this between February and May of last year. During the 12-week period that the cameras were set up, they snapped over 83,000 images that showed several different species such as rattlesnakes, alligator lizards, skinks, rats, mice, foxes, and ground squirrels.
Despite being just 3.5 inches in length (with a third of that being its tail) and weighing about the same as four paperclips, “shrews need to eat every few hours, and some species of shrew eat up to two times their body weight each day,” Hamblen explained, adding, “This makes them challenging to capture safely because they need to eat so frequently. Remote camera traps are a non-invasive survey method allowing us to collect data without disturbing the animal.”
Since the shrew has finally been witnessed again, the Conservancy hopes to find out exactly how many there are living on the island in addition to making sure that the creature continues to survive.
The picture of the Catalina Island Shrew can be seen here (note: the creature is located at the top left hand side of the photo).