Test to determine if rare fox spotted near Lake Tahoe

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Wildlife biologists are conducting a DNA test to determine if a rare native fox has been spotted at Donner Lake near Truckee.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said a fox, suspected to be a subspecies once thought to be extinct, was first reported to them on Oct. 31, and it has been spotted several times on the lake’s north shore as recently as Monday.

Wildlife biologist Ben Sacks of the University of California, Davis said a DNA test is needed to determine if it is a nonnative red fox from California’s lowlands or a native Sierra Nevada red fox.

Fish and Wildlife spokesman David Wright said it would be exciting if the animal proved to be the latter because it would be the first confirmed one in the Lake Tahoe area.

He told Truckee’s Sierra Sun that there might be fewer than 50 of them in existence around Lassen National Park and Sonora Pass.

The first confirmed sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox in the Sierra in two decades came in 2010 when a remote camera captured the image of one near Sonora Pass about 90 miles south of Reno.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.