Are rare animals making a comeback or do we just have more people and cameras in remote areas?
First a gray wolf made it's first appearance in the Grand Canyon in over 70 years (http://www.mygrandcanyonpark.com/was-that-a-wolf-grand-canyon/). Now, a Sierra Nevada Red Fox was the first to be seen of its kind in Yosemite since 1915.
This rare fox was spotted in the national park using a camera with a motion sensor. In 1990, another such fox was photographed in Lassen National Forest during a wolverine study. And then again, one was spotted in 2010 at Sonora Pass north of Yosemite. Are these three different animals or the same one? Researchers don't know.
What they do know is that it truly is a Sierra Nevada Red. The 2010 sighting saw the fox chewing on a bag of chicken scraps. The DNA from the saliva confirmed the animal's genetics. Now, scientists are setting up hair snares in Yosemite. Should the fox take the bait, we will know the fox's genetics including if it is the same animal or a relative.
There are estimated to be fewer than 50 Sierra Nevada Red Foxes in North America. Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said the sighting is a good sign the animals may “make a comeback.”
We sure hope this is true and that the increased sightings are not a result of increased human presence in wilderness.