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‘Real special’: Bend man catches rare, mysterious fox on camera near Mt. Bachelor

(Update: Adding video, photographer, ODFW biologist's comments)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Alan Miles of Bend took these photos of what appears to be a rare Sierra Nevada red fox at a Mt. Bachelor parking lot.

He said the fox was passing through the Skyliner parking lot on Monday. 

According to the Center For Biological Diversity, "This unique animal is one of the rarest mammals in North America and is now limited to only two tiny California populations that likely consist of fewer than 50 — and possibly even fewer than 20 — individuals."

"I saw a lady taking a photo of this animal on the hill, looked up and it was this very unusual animal -- it was not a dog -- and just thought it was real special," Miles said.

It seems the rare animal's temperament might have been why Miles was able to get some good shots in.

"I just walked, took pictures, and it really wasn't afraid or had any fear of machines or myself," he said.

The Oregon Department Of Fish And Wildlife says the animal's presence in Oregon was confirmed in 2015, specifically in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington and Three Sisters wilderness areas.

ODFW biologist Jamie Bowles says the agency has been studying the foxes.

"Very little is known about the Sierra Nevada red fox," she said. "We haven't taken a look yet at population size estimates or density in our area."

Bowles explained while they might not be the most rare, they are hard to find.

"They're very elusive," she said. "They are nocturnal animals, and they do spend their time in the higher elevation areas."

And just because they have the word "red" in their name doesn't mean they are always that color.

"So it is a misnomer, their name, the Sierra Nevada red fox," Bowles explained. "We actually see a lot more of the darker-coated foxes here in Central Oregon, specifically in the higher elevations."

Article Topic Follows: Wildlife
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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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