genetic signature of canine slobber on a bait bag of chicken scraps and
a fuzzy photograph snapped by a motion-sensitive camera north of
Yosemite National Park have confirmed the existence of a supposedly
extinct red fox, the U.S. Forest Service announced this week.
“The last known sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox in the Sonora
Pass area was sometime in the 1920s,” said Mike Crawley, Bridgeport
District ranger. “Needless to say, we are quite surprised and excited
by this find.”
Federal wildlife technicians Emily Crowe and Julien Pellegrini were
checking hundreds of photographs when they came across an over-exposed
image taken at 2:17 a.m. on Aug. 11 of what appeared to be the rare red
fox with a characteristic white-tipped tail trying to get at the bait
bag dangling from a tree.
The Sierra Nevada red fox (vulpes vulpes necator) lives at high
elevations, eating small mammals and birds. They have a reddish-colored
head, back, and sides; black backs of the ears; black "socks" on their
feet, and a white-tipped tail.
However, the only known population of the Sierra Nevada red fox is a
group of roughly 20 animals clinging to survival in the Lassen Peak
region, about 150 miles to the north.
Photo: Sierra Nevada red fox in Lassen Peak region/Keith Slausen, US Forest Service