In December 2014, motion-activated cameras in Yosemite’s remote northern wilderness captured a remarkable image: the first sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox inside the park’s borders in nearly 100 years.
As one of North America’s rarest mammals, and one of only two native fox species in Yosemite, the Sierra Nevada red fox has become an important focus for the park’s wildlife teams as they collaborate with other agencies and organizations to study and protect the animals.
That initial inspiring red fox sighting was made possible through a project funded by Conservancy donors that supported camera surveys and related field work throughout 2015. In 2016, through another donor-supported project, wildlife biologists are drawing on camera images and genetic samples to search for signs of the rare mammal while also gaining insights into the animals that share its habitat, including mountain lions and other predators, non-native red foxes, and prey species.
Experts estimate that 20-30 Sierra Nevada red foxes live in the Yosemite and Sonora Pass area, representing a large fraction of the entire species population. With support from Conservancy donors, this crucial research could help inform decisions about adding the fox to the Endangered Species list.