Next time you go to Yosemite National Park, look for a new and rarely seen visitor: the Sierra Nevada red fox.
Park officials announced Wednesday that cameras set up in the far northern part of the park twice confirmed a sighting of the fox that hasn’t been seen in Yosemite for 100 years.
Park wildlife biologist Sarah Stock said in the statement that Yosemite’s “vast alpine wilderness provides an opportunity to join research partners in helping to protect this imperiled animal.”
Likely fewer than 50 of the Vulpes vulpes necator, as the species is known, are left in the wild, according to the announcement. It also is on the state’s list of threatened animals.
The Sierra Nevada red fox, one of two native fox species in the park, has dark red fur on its back and head, and a white tip on the tail. It’s notoriously shy too. (If you see a fox, it may be an introduced species of fox, which also thrive in Yosemite.)
The cameras snapped photos twice -- Dec. 13 and Jan. 4 -- within Yosemite’s boundary.
The park says it will continue to study the fox using remote cameras. Biologists also hope to gather hair samples from “hair snares” near each camera that would allow them to perform genetic analysis.
The analysis would help determine whether the fox in Yosemite is related to others sighted in 2010 that were spotted north of the park in the Sonora Pass area. Prior to that sighting, Sierra Nevada red foxes hadn’t been seen in two decades.