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Endangered Sierra Nevada Red Fox Sighted Farther South In California

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Sonora, CA – A surprise for state wildlife officials occurred when a wildlife survey camera caught this picture of an elusive Sierra Nevada Red Fox (SNRF) farther south on the mountain range.

The picture was captured near Taboose Pass, on the eastern boundary of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. It is the first time since the 1930s that an SNRF has been detected in the region. The last sighting of the carnivore in the mountain range was in 2010 in the Sonora Pass area, west of the town of Bridgeport, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officials. They noted that, up until that time, the fox was thought to no longer exist in the Sierra Nevada range. Historically, it has inhabited the upper elevations of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades in California and Oregon advised CDFW officials.

According to CDFW, staff recently detected the animal on four separate occasions on three survey cameras east of the John Muir Trail between 11,400 and 12,000 ft., between April 20 and June 4, last year, extending the SNRF’s known range more than 100 miles south of the Sonora Pass population.

“These new detections are very personally gratifying and are a real payoff for all the hard work our staff has put in,” said CDFW biologist Brian Hatfield. “From a conservation standpoint, this shows that the Sierra Nevada Red Fox is more widely distributed than previously believed.”

State wildlife officials added that the detections of this rare fox along the Sierra Crest, including the most recent sightings, “suggest connectivity of the subspecies between high-elevation areas of Kings Canyon National Park and the population at Sonora Pass.”

This ongoing camera survey of alpine carnivores began in 2015 and is being coordinated by CDFW staff from the Bishop Field Office, with staff hiking and skiing many miles in the summer and winter to deploy and maintain the survey cameras. Also assisting in the study is Yosemite National Park. In April of 2019, the park was granted a multi-million-dollar grant from the Yosemite Conservancy, with one of the projects being to study the fox, as reported here. 

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