Cascade Mountain School: PCT Game Trail Carnivore Camera Setup

A group of four from the 2015 Cascade Mountain School Field Ecology Course posted a camera approximately one mile south of the Stagman Ridge trail on the Pacific Crest Trail, north of the trail on Monday August 10 around 10:00 am. We chose this area because it is located near a drainage and a trail, both of which animals use for travel. At the top of the drainage is a small meadow with a copse of live trees among a forest of burnt trees. It will be interesting to see if foxes still inhabit the area after the recent year’s forest fires and at lower elevations with changing temperatures due to climate change. The camera and scent lure are at a north-south orientation with the camera facing north to avoid direct sunlight at all times of day. We placed the scent lure on an easy access side of the tree to encourage approach from the front in the camera’s view. There is also a game trail passing through the view of the camera and multiple rocky areas possible for denning. Due to the aforementioned features we think the area is a likely fox habitat and an ideal camera location.

~Spunky Grizzlies

Rachel the Mountain Goat, Maria the Black Bear, Ankita the Anteater, Luca the Chinchilla

Cascade Mountain School: Horseshoe Meadow Carnivore Camera Setup

The Cascade Mountain School is an ecology program set for teens inspired to learn about and help prevent climate change. This year, I spent a morning with the students on their 2 week field ecology course to talk about carnivore ecology in the Cascade Mountains as part of their 6-day backpacking trip on Mount Adams. The overarching goals of the school are to 1) cultivate individual responsibility and personal growth, 2) fostering creation of community and understanding of the natural world, and 3) excel in scientific inquiry, systems thinking, and sustainability studies.

The students split into two groups tasked with selecting good sites to set up wildlife cameras targeting the Cascade red fox. This posting is from the Horseshoe Meadow team.

The location for our camera was ideal because the location had multiple key areas for lingering carnivores. The area was fairly close (about 1/4 mile) to the PCT, but it wasn't close enough for a miss intentioned person to stumble upon it; also it was adjacent to two meadows, one being Horseshoe Meadow. The camera sat next to a saddle in the ridge where carnivores would most likely cross to access the meadow or nearby water source. For exactly this reason, we pointed the camera at the saddle area, anticipating that the animals would come from this direction. The location over looks the meadow, so carnivores have a clear view of their surroundings. The area had a fair amount of trees and vegetation to provide cover, but not so dense that it would affect the picture results. There are also lots of prey for carnivores in the area, so an animal will most likely cross paths with the wildlife camera. Since the sun rises and sets in the east-west direction, we positioned our camera so that it faced north-south to avoid whitewash in our photos.

~ Jordan the Grizz, Haley Carrot-Top, Galen Super-Pyro, and Karli the Spunk-Bun


Meandering stream on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

We set two cameras, facing different directions, at a site along a meandering stream near a large, mid-elevation meadow system on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to target grey wolves. There are no confirmed grey wolf detections on the GPNF yet though we regularly receive anecdotal sightings. We anticipate the grey wolf will re-inhabit the southern Washington Cascades one day if it has not returned to the area already. At the station, we had regular coyote visitors as well as a herd of elk, and our first owl detections. Over the past seven years, we have documented almost every wildlife species in the Cascades.


Quite a few elk visited the station.

A curious elk.

 A pair of coyotes

A pair of barred owls

A small black bear

The whole family was checking this station, including Luca in my belly, now 4 months old.


Some photos from Mt Hood National Forest

A gorgeous coyote.

Two ravens chatting on a branch.

Below is a neat flying squirrel sequence.


Two coyotes at Bennett Pass

Two coyotes together at station near Bennett Pass. It is a little early for the breeding season - coyotes in the Cascades breed in late winter - so this pair may be siblings.

Probably one of the pair, seen earlier.

It has been an interesting winter with the warmer mountain temperatures, torrential rain, and dearth of snow accompanied by bobcat, coyote, and mountain lion at most of our Oregon stations. We haven't seen such wild cat presence in Washington. This winter we have focused our station locations at various sites adjacent to but not on Mt Hood as we conducted extensive surveys this summer on the mountain itself. We have not detected mountain foxes at any of this season's sites yet, which is surprising as the survey stations encompass a lower elevation area than our sites on the mountain that yielded fox detections but still within the range of where we expect to find some foxes. I imagine that mountain precipitation patterns have a significant impact on fox behaviour as foxes rely on access to the small mammals under the snow a major prey source. Rain fall on snow followed by a freeze-up prevent access for foxes to the subnivean zone where the small mammals live. But its hard to know precisely how these changes manifest themselves. There is much to learn about these rare mountain foxes.


More cats

Here are a couple great photos of bobcat from a station in the Badger Creek Wilderness and a second in lower elevation, open forest that are run by Cascadia Wild and Paul Halliday.


First snowy winter shots from Mt Hood National Forest: Cats, cats, cats

Bobcat streaking through deep snow off Gumjuac Trail

Bobcat peering through rain drops near Teacup ski trails.

Below: A series of shots of a mountain lion chomping on the bait.