BC-CALIF-RIMFIRE-WILDLIFE:LA — national, xtop (850 words)
Rim fire puts a dent in High Sierra wildlife habitat
GROVELAND, Calif. — The Rim fire that scorched a huge swath of Sierra Nevada forests also severely altered the habitat that is home to several of California’s rarest animals: the great gray owl, the Sierra Nevada red fox and the Pacific fisher.
The fire burned 257,000 acres of High Sierra wilderness straddling the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park that harbors a geographically isolated and genetically distinct clan of roughly 200 great gray owls.
The blaze also came within 12 miles of 10 breeding pairs of the subspecies of red fox clinging to survival in the cold, steep slopes above the tree line, raising fears they could have been eaten by coyotes trying to escape the smoke and flames.
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