Yosemite National Park released an image yesterday of an elusive Sierra Nevada red fox, caught by a motion-sensor camera in the park. This news marks the first time one of these foxes has been seen inside the national park in nearly 100 years. Park officials are excited about the discovery, hoping that it means the endangered mammals are doing well.
Fewer than 50 of the rare foxes are thought to exist today, so getting a look at one of these little guys is a really special event. Yosemite’s remote motion-activated camera actually captured images of the red fox on two separate dates: December 13, 2014, and January 4, 2015. As of right now, park officials are pretty sure it was the same individual in both instances. The last known sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox was in the Sonora Pass area, which is situated just north of Yosemite.
Conservationists and park employees are elated to see the new images of the Sierra Nevada red fox within the park borders. Yosemite National Park superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement that he was “thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox, one of the most rare and elusive animals in the Sierra Nevada.” Neubacher went on to say that such a sighting is encouraging, as national parks provide important habitats for all wildlife.
Now that the foxes are back on the radar, researchers on the Yosemite “carnivore crew” are working to create more opportunities to study the dark-red critters. They will continue using remote cameras, like the ones that captured the first images, but they’re taking some additional steps as well. The crew set up hair snares at each camera station, in hopes of catching hair samples for genetic analysis. That way, the park can learn more about the population and possibly figure out how many individual foxes are in the area, as well as whether they are related to individuals from the Sonora Pass area.