One of the rarest animals in North America was spotted in Yosemite National Park.
Earlier this week a Sierra Nevada red fox was spotted for the first time in nearly 100 years.
The fox was spotted using motion-sensitive cameras on two separate occasions, Dec. 13, 2014, and Jan. 4, 2015j, reports ABC News.
“We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox, one of the most rare and elusive animals in the Sierra Nevada,” said Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent, in a statement. “National parks like Yosemite provide habitat for all wildlife and it is encouraging to see that the red fox was sighted in the park.”
According to a media release by the National Parks Service, red foxes have previously been seen north of the park in the Sonora Pass area. The Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) is slightly smaller, with darker fur than other red foxes. Fewer than 50 of the foxes are thought to exist today.
The Sierra Nevada red fox spotted stability was addressed in a 1937 book by Joseph Grinnell, “Fur-bearing Mammals of California.”
“The Sierran red fox is present in such small aggregate numbers, and lives so far removed from human settlements, that it rarely if ever comes into conflict with man’s activities; on the contrary it benefits man by producing a very valuable pelt,” Grinnell wrote.
As fewer and fewer of the pelts were collected — just two a year by the 1970s, according to NPS — the species was added to the state-threatened list in 1980. According to the National Parks Service, relatively little is known about the foxes because of the rarity of sightings.
The High Sierra foxes current range has been extended by recent webcam discoveries. In August, 2010, a handful were discovered fortuitously by motion sensitive cameras near Sonora Pass set up to detect rare Fisher (Martes pennanti) and Marten (Martes americana). These Sierra Nevada red foxes were photographed in the central Sierra Nevada, more than 200 miles away from Lassen Peak, and genetic analysis of saliva from bites on a bait bag was compared to museum specimens from prior to 1926, confirming their identity. They had not been seen in the Sonora Pass area since 1925. In March 2011 a ski slope groomer on Mount Hood snapped a shot with his flip phone which spurred scientists to set up webcams in Oregon. These subsequently confirmed fox populations not only on Mount Hood, but also 200+ miles south at Crater Lake in June 2012.
Sierra Nevada red fox spotted