One of the most endangered mammals in North America has just been caught on a trail camera in Yosemite National Park — the Sierra red fox.
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Experts say that there are fewer than 10 of these solitary and nocturnal creatures left in the wild. The park said the image was taken in October 2019, but only recently retrieved:
(1/3) This photo was captured last October and recently retrieved from a backcountry camera, as part of an effort supported by @YoseConservancy to study the rare Sierra Nevada red fox that lives in and around the park's highest mountains. pic.twitter.com/hSQbWSHbbU
— Yosemite National Park (@YosemiteNPS) April 3, 2020
This is the first time the fox ― a distinct subspecies of the more common red fox ― had been seen on a camera south of Tioga Pass Road since its surveys began in 2011, the Huff Post reports. Before this, the Sierra red fox was spotted in Yosemite on trail cameras in late 2014 and early 2015, the first sightings within the national park in nearly 100 years.
The Center for Biological Diversity said the Sierra Nevada red fox is “genetically and geographically distinct from all other red foxes,” according to the Huff Post. There are likely only two populations left, with fewer than 50 and perhaps fewer than 20 individuals. Those that remain are threatened by logging, off-road and over-snow vehicles, livestock grazing, fish stocking, and climate change.