Rare Sierra Nevada Red Fox Found

In the first week of May, biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Ecology Institute discovered an extremely rare species of Sierra Nevada red fox in Deschutes County near Bend, Oregon.

The single female found is in its adult stage and is the first of its kind to ever be caught in the state.

Officials radio-tagged the animal with a device that will allow scientists to track its behavior in a number of ways including recording habitat use, denning and foraging behaviors, travel from high to low elevation, as well as to collect data on population dynamics, genetic information, seasonal behavior changes, and competition with other animals like coyotes.

Currently no one has any idea how the fox got to this part of Oregon. The mystery is intensified by the fact that the species, which has a population of no more than 50 animals, has only ever been known to live in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and in the Oregon Cascades on the border between Oregon and California.

Biologists tracking the fox hope to find at least nine more of the species by the end of next June. Observations of the animal and its habits will help the ODFW and local biologists in their efforts to keep the species alive in both Oregon and California. Additional information regarding the first fox discovered will be made available to the public over the next year, while the animal’s activities are monitored.

By Kiki Genoa