In a notice published on October 8, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its proposed 12-month finding on the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) petition to list the Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Service determined that listing of the subspecies is not warranted because the fox is more abundant than previously believed and because known and potential stressors to the fox are not likely to cause the subspecies to become endangered in the foreseeable future.
CBD’s petition also requested that the Service evaluate whether two populations within the subspecies’ range are potential distinct population segments (DPSs). The Service concluded that the Southern Cascades and Sierra Nevada population segments of the Sierra Nevada red fox meet the Service’s DPS policy criteria and that listing the Sierra Nevada DPS is warranted but precluded by higher priority actions. The Service will add the Sierra Nevada DPS of the Sierra Nevada red fox to the Service’s candidate species list.
The Service’s findings are based on a 2015 report prepared by a team of Service biologists entitled “Species Report, Sierra Nevada Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes necator),” available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2011-0103.
Sierra Nevada red fox use multiple habitat types in the alpine and subalpine zones, including meadows and rocky areas, high-elevation and sub-alpine conifer habitat. The Service confirmed that the fox’s range extends into the Oregon Cascades, as far north as to Mount Hood, and individuals have been observed in the vicinity of Mount Washington, Dutchman Flats, Willamette Pass and Crater Lake in Oregon, and Lassen and Sonora Pass in California.
The Service also removed 19 species from its candidate list in a notice published on the same day, concluding that listing the American eel (Anguilla rostrate), Cumberland arrow darter (Etheostoma sagitta), the Great Basin distinct population segment (DPS) of the Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris), Goose Creek milkvetch (Astragalus anserinus), Nevares spring bug (Ambrysus Funebis), Page springsnail (Pyrgulopsis morrisoni), Ramshaw meadows sand-verbena (Abronia alpina), Sequatchie caddisfly (Glyphopsyche sequatchie), Shawnee darter (Etheostoma tecumsehi), Siskiyou mariposa lily (Calochortus persistens), Sleeping ute milkvetch (Astragalus tortipes), Southern Idaho ground squirrel (Urocitellus Endemicus), Tahoe yellow cress (Rorippa Subumbellata), and six Tennessee cave beetles (Baker Station Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus Insularis), Coleman Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus Colemanensis), Fowler’s Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus Fowlerae), Indian Grave Point Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus Tiresias), Inquirer Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus Inquisitor), and Noblett’s Cave Beetle (Pseudanophthalmus Paulus)) is not warranted at this time.