Near-Extinct Fox Spotted at Yosemite

Sierra Nevada red fox hadn't been seen in park for a century
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2015 12:48 PM CST
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In this Dec. 13, 2014 image from a remote motion-sensitive camera, a Sierra Nevada red fox walks in Yosemite National Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/National Park Service)

(Newser) – "They are extremely cute little animals," a Yosemite National Park spokeswoman says of the park's latest find. They're also extremely rare: The Sierra Nevada red fox hasn't been spotted in Yosemite in a hundred years, reports the LA Times. That's because they're shy little guys who avoid humans, they hang out in high elevations, and there are thought to be fewer than 50 of them left, earning them descriptors like "one of the rarest mammals in North America." Indeed, before one was spotted in central California in 2010, a UC Davis researcher told National Geographic that "We thought they were gone." There have been two recent fox sightings—on Dec. 13 and Jan. 4—by motion-activated cameras in the park, though the Times notes it's not clear if it was the same fox.

"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," says Yosemite's superintendent; the spokeswoman adds that park officials hope the fox can "make a comeback" within Yosemite's protected borders. The Sierra Nevada red fox is a little smaller than its cousin the red fox, notes ABC News, with darker fur. It's one of 14 mammals protected in the state of California. (Read more Yosemite National Park stories.)

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