Rare foxes once thought to be extinct in the Sierra Nevada spotted on trail cams

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Once thought extinct until their rediscovery in 2010, endangered foxes have now been spotted 100 miles away near a Sierra Nevada national park, California officials reported.

Trail cams at Taboose Pass near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park captured photos of the rare Sierra Nevada red fox in 2022, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a Jan. 24 news release.

The foxes have not been seen in that part of the Sierra Nevada since the 1930s, officials said.

The foxes once were considered extinct in the Sierra Nevada until the 2010 discovery of a small population at Sonora Pass, west of the town of Bridgeport, the release said.

The latest discovery extends their range 100 miles south to the eastern boundary of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, officials said.

Three trail cams at high elevations east of the John Muir Trail caught four photos of the reclusive foxes between April and June, the release said.

“These new detections are very personally gratifying and is a real payoff for all the hard work our staff has put in,” said biologist Brian Hatfield. “From a conservation standpoint this shows that the Sierra Nevada Red Fox is more widely distributed than previously believed.”

The Sierra Nevada red fox “historically inhabited the upper elevations of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades in California and Oregon,” officials said.

Collaborators in the project to survey alpine carnivores 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 and Southern California Edison.

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