Large carnivores.

Being a mesocarnivore ecologist (someone who studies mid-sized carnivores), I am constantly stunned by how majestic and beautiful large carnivores are. We collected these photos of a mountain lion in December at the beginning of our winter field season. They are the only shots we received of a mountain lion from our mountain carnivore project. Mountain lions are just so… plain wild! I've also added a couple of my favorite photos of large carnivores from the archives.


Visits from the Cascade red fox color morphs this winter

While red foxes come in a variety of coat colors, or phases, there are three typical colors phases. The coat of a red fox does not change color with the seasons but rather stays the same throughout its year and lifetime. The cross-phase Cascade red fox, is distinguished by a dark band running down its spine and across its shoulders, forming a cross. 

The black-phase Cascade red fox, also known as a silver fox, is grizzly black and white. This individual was photographed in the Crystal Mountain area.

The better known red-phase Cascade Red Fox 

A night comparison of cross-phase and red-phase Cascade red foxes


Deep, deep winter

This has been quite the winter. Endless snow, which seems to always fall most heavily at the beginning of the month when we are trying to get out for our monthly camera checks, have hampered our best intentions. This latest cycle of high avalanche danger has made getting out near impossible as we value our lives. On top of the weather, we have had some interesting set backs including a flat tire, a wheel rolling of the trailer, a blown snowmobile cylinder, my getting the truck stuck in deep snow in the snowpark; erratic, old snowmachines, what else? I can't remember but I know there was more.


Video of a black-phase Cascade red fox

Thanks to Doug Carlton for capturing this black-phase Cascade red fox at Crystal Mountain Resort and telling us about it. This is individual is likely one of the foxes that was photographed this summer near a den we were monitoring in the area.
(c) Doug Carlton

Two young foxes (likely yearlings) photographed last summer in the same area (c) Anthony Carado

Let us know if you have seen a fox in the Cascades.


Winter Cascade red fox and wolverine surveys commence

We began Year 2 of our Winter Rare Carnivore Project collaboration with the USFS Naches Ranger District in November 2016 and results are coming in.

Looking down into drainage.

Classic, subalpine, ridge-line Cascade red fox habitat.

Veronica and Cascade red fox tracks near one of our stations.


Fishers in Washington

December was an exciting month for the Pacific Fisher in Washington! On December 2nd, as part of Washington State's Fisher Recovery Plan, ten fishers from British Columbia were released into Mt. Rainier National Park. Releases continued in Gifford Pinchot National Forest on December 10th, with more releases occurring in both areas throughout the rest of the month 
Having been essentially extirpated in Washington around the 1930's from extensive trapping and habitat loss, the fisher was determined as endangered in the state in 1998. From there, a statewide reintroduction effort was devised, kicking off with the release of 90 fishers throughout the Olympic Peninsula between 2008 and 2011. While these fishers were continuing to be monitored, reintroductions began in Washington's Southern Cascades last year, with the release of 23 total animals, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Of these 23, fisher M007 has drawn the attention of locals within the Naches Ranger District. This March, M007 was caught on a Conservation Northwest Citizen Monitoring camera, roughly 50 miles Northwest of the release site. You can read more about his detection here: 
In mid-December, M007 was seen by a local cabin resident roughly 20 miles South of his previously photographed location and then spotted on a separate occasion in a nearby drainage less than two weeks later. 

Check out this short video of M007 captured by Christina Eglin!


Throughout this winter, releases will continue in Mount Rainier National Park and Gifford Pinchot National Forest until a total of 80 individuals have set out into the Southern Cascades. In the winters following the Southern releases, a final reintroduction effort will begin in the North Cascades area with another 80 animals. Recovering a healthy fisher population in Washington may be slow as the new fishers adjust to challenges like habitat fragmentation, but the effort and support going into their reintroduction is very exciting! As low to mid elevation carnivores, we don't expect to detect fishers on our camera traps primarily set for high elevation carnivores, yet it is not out of the realm of possibilities and we'll be keeping an eye out for their sign! 

You can stay updated on the reintroduced fishers on WDFW's page: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisher/updates_cascade.html