Hello Cascadia Wild Winter Volunteers,
Lots of Camera and Tracking Trips this week!
Volunteers visited McCubbins #1 and #2, Government Camp West, Yellowjacket West, Glade, Clear Lake, and ODFW Lands cameras, and Snow Bunny and Little John on tracking trips.
All of these sightings have us considering the diverse ways wildlife stay happy and healthy at this time of year when food can be harder to come by.
A beautiful day at Snow Bunny!
The tracks below display a typical canine side trot (the gait that your dog commonly does when it is pulling on the leash). This trail pattern, along with the oval shape of the tracks, tell us it is definitely a canine. The crew identified the tracks below as being from a coyote, but these can sometimes be difficult to confidently identify. Is at a coyote? Or perhaps a fox? Maybe a domestic dog?
There is a lot of overlap in the size of the tracks themselves. However, fox are smaller animals than coyotes and will therefore have a smaller stride. Fox also have furry feet, so it is rare to find a clear track. Also, the track itself is wider, so if negative space is definable, coyote tracks will display and X, while fox will typically display a negative space closer to an H.
Two groups visited Little John this week, and both found signs of weasels. The narrow, focused trail shown below is indicative of a weasel in a hurry! As mentioned in a previous email, weasel tracks can often be identified by the meandering, curious, erratic paths they create as they investigate their surroundings.
Weasels typically hunt under the snow, seeking out mice and other small rodents. It is possible that it is the females that are hunting underground, while males stay above ground. This could be attributed to their size difference, as it would be easier for the smaller females to fit into the narrow burrows beneath the snow.
Wildlife Camera Findings
This group of 3 coyotes was lured in to our ODFW Lands camera, but wasted no time in organizing themselves to search out some real prey for themselves. Although we are used to seeing coyotes in almost every habitat we can think of, the open grasslands are where they originally thrived, sustaining themselves on the small rodents found in abundance in that landscape.
They've come a long way in the past few hundred years, diversifying their habitat, diet, and social structures, but seeing this small group working their way through the grass is a happy sight to see, and reminiscent of these coyotes' origins.
It's hard not to assume this jolly looking deer was enjoying the (relatively) warm weather!
Don't be fooled by the sunny, grassy backdrop of these photos though, these visitors are still pushing through the cold! This solitary elk only appeared once on camera, amongst night after night of deer.
This deer passing by McCubbins #2 was not enjoying the luxury of warmer weather like above, but it is still highly capable of thriving in the cold. Deer can capitalize on many food sources still readily available in winter, even including lichen and fungi
This Government Camp West bobcat might have been lured in by the scent of an easy meal. Unlike the lynx, bobcats' smaller feet cause them to sink into deep snow, making hunting more of a challenge.
This individual probably moved on in search of one of their more typical meals for this time of year, which could include snowshoe hair, mice, voles, and even deer.
Hello Cascadia Wild Winter Volunteers,
Another great week of camera trips! Volunteers visited McCubbins #1 and #2, Government Camp East, Hazel Hollow #1 and #2, and Little Zig Zag.
Wildlife Camera Findings
A group of 6 deer passing by McCubbins #2
One of many bobcat sightings at McCubbins #2
A coyote in the distance at Hazel Hollow #2
A marten circles the bait at Little Zig Zag
Little Zig Zag was frequented by a red fox over the past few weeks. This is another interesting example of these animals using high elevation forest areas regularly.
Winter is in full swing and we love seeing all of the beautiful photos and tracking trip updates each week. Check out GoogleDocs to see all of the full sets from each camera.
Wildlife Camera Findings
A marten spent some time at Glade immediately after set-up.
We have seen a lot of bobcats on multiple cameras lately. This is unsurprising, considering the countless squirrel and hare photos we receive each week!
This individual at Yellowjacket East hung around for a while, leaving the camera and returning only a half hour later. The last shot of the bobcat leaving the area shows great detail of its tail and hind feet!
McCubbins #2 was also visited by a bobcat multiple times.
Deer and coyote at McCubbins #2 (not to mention all the squirrels!)
And finally, again at McCubbins #2...
That's a first! While it's true that the camera is near a water source, this is the first time we have ever seen a RIVER OTTER on our cameras before! Here are the full photos for scale:
As you can see, this otter was out and about at nine in the morning, which corresponds with their likelihood to be more active during the day in the winter (and more active at night in the summer.) Although otters spend the majority of their time in the water, they will travel considerable distances when relocating from one body of water to another.
We are thrilled to have added another species to our list of animals! Every week we learn more about Mt. Hood wildlife. Also, don't forget to check out GoogleDocs to see all of the full sets from each camera.
Cascadia Wild relies on donors like you to keep the equipment maintained and the data in order!
An anonymous supporter will make an additional donation for every gift or membership of $50 or more received in December, and will double it if we reach our goal!
Please make a year end gift or become a member today.
Help us reach our goal and keep these programs going in 2019!
As snow continues to build up, so do our chances of finding rare signs! Can you identify a wolverine track? Look for these identifying track features:
• Typical mustelid structure, with 5 toes on all feet
• Front: 4-7.5 inches long x 4-5 inches wide
• Hind: 3.5-4 inches long x 4-5 inches wide
• Thickly furred feet often cause tracks to look indistinct
Wolverines leave a very unusual trail pattern with lines of footprints at an angle to the direction of travel. How do they move to leave such a pattern? Watch this illuminating video to see them in motion. (Thanks, Jen, for sharing this!) Check it out so you'll have a mental image to call up when observing tracks in the field.
Their unique loping gait leaves a distinctive trail pattern we know you'll be able to identify if and when the opportunity presents itself!
We're off to an incredible start! Already a Sierra Nevada red fox has visited the camera at Meadows. Here are the highlights, below. Watch our social media pages for more pictures, and check out the full sets on googledocs. We think they're especially fun this week!
About the updates
The pictures that you bring back from the wildlife cameras will be posted to Google Drive for you to look at. (For those of you who helped out last summer, the Flickr page will no longer be used.)
In addition, we will be sending you a weekly email with the highlights from both the cameras and the tracking surveys. You can also check out other photos on our facebook and instagram pages.
The summer season has come to an end. Thanks to all your help, we were able to get new information on 3 different target species, as well many other carnivores.
Here's what we found.
A wolf pack is now confirmed to be on the Warm Springs Reservation. They also utilize parts of the Mt Hood National Forest, as seen in the photo below. Now that the pack is established, the questions become: will they be able to survive in the area long term and where will they disperse to next? We now need to keep on eye on the rest of the forest and see where they show up next!
Two cameras got Sierra Nevada red fox detections this summer, Lambertson Butte and Meadows West. The photo from Lambertson Butte went unnoticed until recently - the fox passed quickly and only left this one blurry photo. But that is enough!
Here are the two individuals from the winter:
Marten are known to live in high elevation, closed canopy forest, and their pictures from Lambertson Butte, Newton Upper, Meadows Ski Lift, Meadows West, and Meadows Buildings confirm this. But this summer we also got one unusal sighting - from Lemiti Creek! This site borders the Ollallie Lakes area, where they are known to live, but the site itself is in a young lodgepole pine forest that is still recovering from a severe burn. It has a thick regenerating layer of trees less than 10 ftt tall, but hardly any large trees at all. The camera only picked up one picture before it failed for the rest of the summer. Too bad! It would be great to know more about this individual.
Here's a marten from the camera near Mt Hood Meadows Resort:
Here's the final tally of what we found this summer.
Having so much information on many different species, for many years, has creeated a great opportunity to detect any changes to the wildlife community now that wolves have moved in. We look forward to continuing the study in the years to come!
Thank you all for a great season!!
Almost exactly one year ago, we sent out an email that concluded with photos of wolverines and wolves, and a hopeful wish that "one day soon we would see these two animals return to Mount Hood." HOW AMAZING that we were able to check one of these off our list this year! What we have found this season has been truly momentous and our volunteers are to thank for that.
We are finishing out the summer season with a few more beautiful shots of some of our frequent camera visitors:
pair of wolves seen visiting one of our cameras near the Warm Springs boundary.
Although the second wolf stayed mostly behind the brush, this one provided a variety of beautiful photos.
Watch our social media pages for a complete set of photos
In early January 2018, ODFW confirmed a pair of wolves traveling together in Mount Hood National Forest. In August, the pair was confirmed to have had at least two pups (confirmed by ODFW trail cams.)
In JULY, Cascadia Wild captured these incredible photos! (Yes, July! We'll say we left the cameras unchecked so that we didn't steal the thunder from ODFW's announcement a month later!)
In these photos you can see two similarly sized individuals investigating around our camera. This is an amazing confirmation of their presence in the forest and a valuable resource in their protection (wolves are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act in many parts of Oregon.)
We know you've already loaded up your tracking gear and started your car to go scour the area for sign, but at the moment, "the vicinity of Warm Springs Boundary" will have to suffice. (expect equally vague locations on Flikr as well.)
Follow the links below and check our Instagram to compare photos. Do you think they are the same individuals?
Sighting with Pups
THANK YOU to all of our volunteers for making these pictures happen!
California Ground Squirrel
Red Tailed Hawk
Sierra Nevada Red Fox
Summer Wildlife Surveys
Winter Wildlife Surveys
Wolverine Tracking Project