We have had a successful season monitoring the foxes around the Crystal Mountain area! Not only were we able to observe 4-5 local foxes, we have additionally been monitoring a den system in the area. One of our remote cameras, situated at a den entrance, yielded exciting detections of a black-phase mother and two pups, up until July 31st when they abandoned the den. Instead of maintaining dens throughout the year, montane red foxes use dens primarily as a means for rearing kits, abandoning them once the young are more self-sufficient and returning to them or developing new systems with the return of mating season.
Shortly after becoming vacant, the den was briefly entered by an elusive mountain beaver. This lesser known rodent, weighing only a few pounds, is not closely related to the North American beaver, but is the sole living member of its biological family, Aplodontiidae. Primitive traits like inefficient kidney functions, early cranial-muscular features, and an inability to conserve body heat as effectively as other rodents, make the mountain beaver somewhat of a “living fossil.” The mountain beaver is believed to be in abundance in its Pacific Northwest range from British Columbia’s Cascades, to the Olympic and Coastal mountains of Washington and Oregon, and as far South as the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California, occurring as 7 different subspecies. Living most of its life underground in burrow systems similar to fox dens, this mountain beaver seemed to be investigating the new real estate.