By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Three groups of California's rare island fox were removed from the U.S. endangered species list on Thursday, and a fourth was downgraded to threatened, marking the fastest recovery yet for an American mammal once deemed to be on the brink of extinction. The population of the four subspecies in question on California's Channel Islands, which had plunged to fewer than 200 animals during the late 1990s, has bounced back to nearly 6,000 as of 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported. The agency said the island fox rebound was hastened by an intense recovery program that included captive breeding of the animals, removal of feral pigs from the islands and reducing an influx of golden eagles from the mainland that had become an invasive predator.
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