Protections sought for Sierra Nevada red fox
Environmentalists today asked the federal government to protect the Sierra Nevada red fox under the Endangered Species Act, a move that could have wide-ranging effects on land management.
The Center for Biological Diversity submitted the petition Wednesday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to determine if the fox warrants protection.
The Sierra Nevada red fox is considered one of the most endangered mammals in North America. Until recently, only a few dozen were known to exist in a remnant population near Lassen Volcanic National Park.
But in August, a handful were found more than 200 miles away near Sonora Pass, and later confirmed through genetic analysis.
Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the Sierra Nevada red fox has not already received federal protection "simply because nobody petitioned for it."
"This is probably something we should have done years ago," he said. "I think this petition is actually late."
If ultimately listed, McKinnon said protections for the fox could affect logging, cattle grazing and even fishing and snowmobiling. But he acknowledged more research is needed to understand threats to the species.
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