The really nice thing that I like about living in Nevada County is that every once in awhile, I get to see some of natures hidden creatures. Shy among all of them up here is the red fox.
Driving down to the Flour Garden coffee shop the other morning I spied a fox crossing the road. Now I don’t know if it’s a true Sierra Nevada red fox or a lower mountain fox. All I know is that it had a red tail and I couldn’t tell if it had a white chest since of course it was crossing the road in front of me and getting away as fast as it could. I live at an elevation of 3,700 feet and red foxes like to live at an elevation of 4,000 to 10,000 feet.
The Sierra Nevada red fox is smaller than the lowland population of red foxes. How much smaller I don’t know and the critter wouldn’t stop to let me measure him so that I could find out who his parents were. The trappers loved the Sierra Nevada red fox because they have a softer fur than their cousins down in the valley. But it seems that the non-native red foxes are crowding out the native red fox. The Sierra Nevada red fox is on the endangered species list.
Sierra Forestry Legacy states that the habitat for the Sierra Nevada red fox is:
“Preferred habitat for the Sierra Nevada red fox appears to be red fir and lodgepole pine forests in the subalpine zone and alpine fell-fields of the Sierra Nevada. Open areas are used for hunting, forested habitats for cover and reproduction. Edges are utilized extensively for tracking and stalking prey. The red fox hunts in forest openings, meadows, and barren rocky areas associated with its high elevation habitats. Found mostly above 6,000 feet in the summer months, Sierra Nevada populations were historically found in a variety of habitats, including alpine dwarf-shrub, wet meadow, subalpine conifer, lodgepole pine, red fir, aspen, montane chaparral, montane riparian, mixed conifer, and ponderosa pine. Jeffrey pine, eastside pine, and montane hardwood-conifer also are used. This species is known to inhabit vegetation types similar to those used by the marten and wolverine. The range of the Red fox is from the northern California Cascades eastward to the northern Sierra Nevada and then south along the Sierra crest to Tulare County.”
Well, I can say that made my morning, since the little guy was only a couple of hundred feet from my house and I was glad he was in our neighborhood.