The Sierra Nevada red fox (SNRF) which historically inhabited the upper elevations of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades in California and Oregon, has been detected near Taboose Pass, on the eastern boundary of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park – a first for that region since the 1930s.
The state and federally endangered Sierra Nevada red fox was thought to no longer exist in the Sierra Nevada range until a small population was discovered at Sonora Pass in 2010, west of the town of Bridgeport. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) staff recently detected Sierra Nevada Red Fox on four occasions at three survey cameras east of the John Muir Trail between 11,400 and 12,000 ft. The four detections happened between April 20, 2022 and June 4, 2022 and extend the known range of SNRF more than 100 miles south of the Sonora Pass population.
“These new detections are very personally gratifying and is a real payoff for all the hard work our staff has put in,” said CDFW biologist Brian Hatfield. “From a conservation standpoint this shows that the Sierra Nevada Red Fox is more widely distributed than previously believed.”
SNRF detections along the Sierra Crest, including the most recent sightings, suggest connectivity of the subspecies between high-elevation areas of Kings Canyon National Park and the population at Sonora Pass.
This project is part of an ongoing camera survey of alpine carnivores that began in 2015 and is being coordinated by CDFW staff from the Bishop Field Office. These surveys are in remote areas of the Sierra Nevada range, and CDFW staff have hiked and skied countless miles during both summer and winter to deploy and maintain the survey cameras.
Collaborators on this study include the UC Davis Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit, the Inyo and Sierra national forests, Sequoia and, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite national parks, the California Department of Water Resources, Southern California Edison and CDFW.