Mountain lions are rare for our project to detect for two reasons. First, they tend to be much more secretive than other carnivores and second, they are generally known to occur at lower elevations than where we focus at elevations of 4000 to 6500 ft. This individual didn't hang around for long as you can see by this quick succession of two shots within a second of each other and then no more photographs. It was not interested in the bait other than the bait and scent lure bringing the mountain lion in to the station.
As field works slows down this winter and we focus on analyzing our genetic samples, I am going to begin posting some of the interesting photos from the 2013 summer field season and this winter as we check the long-term camera stations that are out now.
This shot is from August.15 and I imagine these two critters are a couple weeks old. Any black-tailed experts out there?
Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)..... this is the first detection of a mephitidae by our cameras. These critters generally don't occur above 6000 ft so their habitat is well within the range of our surveys. They are an omnivorous member of the Carnivora order.
Welcome to Harts Pass: a comic strip about life (and wildlife) in Washington's North Cascades!
So describes Erik Brooks, the author of this 3 years and running comic strip from the Methow Valley News of Winthrop, Washington.
This is too cool! Here is a comic strip (and storybook to come) all about one of our favorite carnivores and his critter cohort. Help support the kickstarter project here....three weeks to go!
This juvenile, black Cascade red fox (also called a silver fox) was detected at a camera station in the southern Goat Rocks Wilderness. Our crews have been surveying a large area of the mountains in southern Washington since late June. We began our summer field season with 6 field biologists setting remote cameras and searching trails they were hiking for mountain fox, wolverine, and coyote scats in the Dark Divide Roadless Area, Goat Rocks, and William O Douglas Wilderness. From these locations, we expanded north, adding 4 crew members, to survey the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and then south to the Indian Heaven Wilderness and Mt Adams.
The Cascade red fox, one of the three subspecies of mountain red fox, is much more likely to produce black and cross phase individuals than the more common red phase typically observed in lowlands red foxes. It is unclear why this occurs but some hypotheses include the red coat color being selected for in the lowlands, perhaps for mating reasons, or the genes that code for red coat color hitch hiking with another gene that is beneficial in the lowlands. The assumption here is that in the mountains, this gene is not as important so all the different variants of the genes occur in approximately equal proportions - each more being equally useful (or useless). Very little research has been conducted on the mountain fox. Any investigation of the differences between mountain and lowland red foxes would be quite interesting and useful to improve our understanding of the conservation requirements of these unique mountain creatures.