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A rare fox seen in Yosemite for the first time in almost 100 years

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For the first time in almost 100 years, a critically endangered Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) has been spotted in California’s Yosemite National Park.

Motion-sensing
cameras at the north of the park captured two photographs of the
animal, once in December 2014 (above) and again earlier this month,
allowing researchers to identify and confirm the sighting.
It’s
estimated that there are only 50 of the Sierra Nevada red foxes left,
although they once were common across the Sierra Nevada mountain range,
as well as other ranges across California.
“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,” Don
Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent, explained in a press release.
Although
this is the first verified sighting of the fox, there have been rumours
of the species in the area since 1977. But, as Robbie Gonzalez reports for io9, verifying those reports are incredibly difficult – which is why the new photographs are so exciting.

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“Biologists
at Yosemite National Park have received only ten red fox sighting
reports since 1977, most of which occurred in or near Yosemite Valley…
Unfortunately, sighting reports are notoriously inaccurate, and without
a photograph or voucher specimen, it is impossible to confirm whether
the sighting was of a red fox or some similar canid such as a grey fox
or coyote,” biologist John D. Perrine from the University of California,
Berkeley wrote in a 2010 conservation assessment on the species.
Other
confirmed sighting in recent years have been confined to two small
isolated populations in the Sierra Nevada range, but this is the first
time the fox has been spotted within the national park for almost a
century.

“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 imperilled animal,” said
Sarah Stock, Wildlife Biologist in Yosemite National Park, in the release. “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.”

Source: io9

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