One of the rarest animals in North America, the Sierra Nevada red fox has been spotted.
A team of biologists from Yosemite National Park was thrilled to discover not just one, but two different images of one of the most endangered animals in North America. Also known as the High Sierra fox, Yosemite officials have waited nearly four full years to see more evidence of this animal's existence in their park.
The team of biologists ventured on a five-day backpacking trip when they checked the images of numerous motion-sensored game cameras. To their excitement, the footage turned up multiple images of the rare fox. The fox showed was photographed on Dec. 13, 2014 as well as Jan. 4, 2015.
"Confirmation of the Sierra Nevada red fox in Yosemite National Park's vast alpine wilderness provides an opportunity to join research partners in helping to protect this imperiled animal," stated Sarah Stock, Wildlife Biologist in Yosemite National Park. "We're excited to work across our boundary to join efforts with other researchers that will ultimately give these foxes the best chances for recovery."
According to records, before the last sighting of the Sierra Nevada Red Fox in 2010, it was 20 years ago when the last of this species was spotted in this region. These latest photographs are the first sightings of the canine in Yosemite National Park in nearly 100 years.
These recent sightings, along with the sightings from 2010 in Sonora Pass and 2012 near Mount Hood, have provide wildlife biologists and conservationists with optimism for the species' survival.
Current estimates suggest that perhaps only 50 or so of these creatures remain alive today. Under the Endangered Species Act, it is now unlawful to trap or hunt the Sierra Nevada red fox. Even still, there are other threats that may drive out its existence, such as interbreeding. This is the only subspecies of the red fox that is native to California.
Learn more about the Sierra Nevada red fox by visiting the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.