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U.S. wildlife agency declares Sierra Nevada red fox endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday it will list the Sierra Nevada red fox as an endangered species, estimating its population now totals fewer than 40 individuals in an area of California stretching from just south of Lake Tahoe to south of Yosemite National Park.

The agency said it decided against listing a distinct population segment of the foxes in the southern Cascade Range of Oregon. That includes a segment in Northern California near Lassen Peak.

But it said in a formal listing rule to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday that the Sierra Nevada segment south of Tahoe “is in danger of extinction throughout all of its range.”

It provided no estimate of the number of red foxes remaining in the Cascade Range.

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Threats to the foxes in the Sierra include wildfire, drought, competition from coyotes for prey and inbreeding with nonnative foxes. Climate change also is likely to become a growing threat.

Some biologists believed 20 years ago the Sierra Nevada population already had gone extinct before a small remnant population was confirmed in 2010.

The Center for Biological Diversity first petitioned for federal protection in 2011. The service proposed it for listing in January 2020.


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