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Red fox tops in Islanders' hearts

Conservation license plate
Duncan Crawford, President of the PEI Wildlife Federation and member of the Wildlife Conservation Fund Committee.

The red fox has come out on top.

The crafty, indigenous animal was the top selling image this year on conservation licence plates sold to support wildlife protection on the Island.

"People identify the red fox as PEI. I wasn't surprised it was popular, it's a cool plate, said Duncan Crawford, President of the PEI Wildlife Federation and member of the Wildlife Conservation Fund Committee.

People renewing their plates were asked to support the Island's Wildlife Conservation Fund by purchasing a new plate with a prominent image of wildlife for five dollars more. They had five designs to choose from.

The red fox was the most popular design. A total of 5,009 fox plates were purchased, followed by 2,573 blue jays, 1,620 geese, 1567 trout and 1,507 lady slipper plates for a total of $122,760.

"We had a much greater uptake than anticipated," Crawford said.

"People are a lot more cognizant of their environment nowadays. Once you buy one, you've contributed to the biggest conservation initiative on PEI."

Crawford's committee will decide which groups will be chosen to get an extra financial boost this year.

His group had been watching the success of this program in other provinces and anxious to pitch it to Islanders. Transportation Minister Vessey was receptive to the idea and it all came together from there, he said.Booming plate sales have increased the size of the Wildlife Conservation Fund by more than 50 per cent.

"There is now way more money available for projects annually for dozens of wildlife groups, nature organizations, conservation initiatives and watershed groups and we can keep our money at work locally," Crawford explained.

"Because the plates are nice, people opted in. It identifies you as a nature lover -- I am proud to have a red fox on my truck."

Lots of fishers took the Speckled Trout, gardeners liked the Lady Slipper, hunters picked the Canada Goose but the Red Fox appealed to everyone.

Islanders have purchased 12,276 of the conservation plates since they first went on sale September 20, 2013. The conservation plates are available in French and English for a $10 annual fee and all proceeds go to the Wildlife Conservation Fund.

You can receive your new plate by visiting any Access PEI site or by requesting one when renewing your vehicle registration online