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Sierra Nevada red fox
Take Part, January 4, 2012

U.S. weighs protection for Sierra Nevada red fox

By Matt Weiser

Federal officials are considering whether to protect the Sierra Nevada red fox under the Endangered Species Act.

Responding to a petition from the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that there is enough information to consider protecting the fox.

The fox weighs only about 10 pounds, measures just over 2 feet from nose to tip of tail, and generally lives only above an elevation of 7,000 feet.

Once found throughout the Sierra Nevada range, the fox is now considered one of the rarest mammals in America.

Until recently, the species was thought to be limited to just a few hundred animals in the Lassen Peak area. But in 2010, U.S. Forest Service biologists discovered a small population in the Sonora Pass area of Stanislaus National Forest.

In its announcement Friday, the Fish and Wildlife Service said there is enough evidence to consider protecting the fox based on its small population, threats from off-road vehicles and disease transmission from domestic dogs.

During a status review, the agency seeks more information on potential threats from logging, livestock grazing and fire suppression. Comments must be submitted by March 5. For information, visit ht.ly/8gVt4 or call (916) 414-6600.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton