Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Refreshing ‘Ologists: A new detection of the threatened Sierra Nevada red fox

This post was written by Ellie Neifeld, 2019 Mono Lake Intern.

Join us on Wednesday, July 10 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this summer’s first Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Brian Hatfield, California Department of Fish & Wildlife researcher, will be here to discuss recent detection of the Sierra Nevada red fox in California. Please register here if you can attend this free event!

A Sierra Nevada red fox detected by remote camera in Mono Creek. Photo courtesy of Brian Hatfield.

The Sierra Nevada red fox (SNRF) is a subspecies of red fox native to the high-elevation regions of California and Oregon. Until recently, scientists thought the SNRF had been extirpated from California. Today we know of only two small populations of SNRF in the state, and the subspecies is a candidate for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

In 2018, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife detected at least three SNRF in the Mono Creek study area northwest of Bishop. These detections mark the southernmost confirmed occurrence of SNRF in nearly 100 years, raising exciting questions about the contemporary distribution and population trajectory of SNRF in California, and prompting more intensive surveys to track this elusive carnivore at the southern edge of its range.

A field crew skiing through Mono Creek during a camera survey trip in 2018. Photo courtesy of Brian Hatfield.
A field crew waiting out a storm during a camera survey trip in the Ritter Range in 2019. Photo courtesy of Brian Hatfield.