For the first time in nearly a century, a rare Sierra Nevada red fox has been spotted in Yosemite National park and the encounter was caught on camera using motion-sensitive cameras.
The first spotting took place on December 13, 2014, and the second on January 4, 2015.
Fewer than 50 of the foxes are thought to exist.
Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher indicated in a statement that the park was “thrilled” to catch wind of the red fox’s sighting, ABC News reported.
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 […] National parks like Yosemite provide habitat for all wildlife and it is encouraging to see that the red fox was sighted in the park.
California’s Yosemite is a United States National Park which spans the eastern portion of Mariposa, Madera, and Tuolumne counties in the central eastern portion of the state. The total area of the park encompasses 1,190 square miles and is managed by the U.S. National Park Service.
Researchers believe that they’ve now seen one of the foxes twice since the beginning of December, NPR reported.
Red foxes have previously been spotted in the Sonora Pass area which is located north of the park. Sierra Nevada red foxes are slightly smaller variants with fur that is darker than that of other red foxes.
Joseph Grinnell wrote in a book published in 1937 titled, “Fur-bearing Mammals of California,” that the Sierran red fox was “in such small aggregate numbers” at the time.
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
The species was added to the state-threatened list in 1980.
As they’re rarely sighted, relatively little is known about the Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) which is also known as the High Sierra fox, according to the National Parks Service.
The subspecies of red fox is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. It is considered to be critically endangered by the California Department of Fish and Game.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. federal government to protect the Sierra Nevada fox on April 26, 2011.
In the early part of the last century, red fox fur was sought after due to its softness, as it was softer than California’s gray fox.
Prior recent sightings of the rare foxes came was a result of webcams which caught the foxes near Sonora Pass in 2010 and on Mount Hood, Oregon in 2012.