Nature Notes

Vol. II August 27, 1924 No. 10

By Park Ranger Charles Landes

There seems to be a prevailing belief that the park is rather destitute of animal life. This is probably due to the fact that the forests and underbrush offer so much to the animals in the way of cover that they are seldom seen by the casual observer.

A recent one day trip by the writer is a refutation of this belief. On August 22nd I made a trip up the Van Trump trail at Christine Falls. This trail was followed to Van Trump Park and across this park to Van Trump glacier. Van Trump glacier was crossed to Cushman Crest, following down the crest to the meadows on its eastward flank and descending into the canyon of the Nisqually at Glacier.

The following animals were seen on this trip; deer, bear, goat, fox, marmot, cony and sooty grouse.

The most interesting animal seen on this trip was the black fox, commonly called the "silver gray" fox. This fox is a color phase of the typical red fox. The Cascade Red Fox is found in the Park but even this fox is not plentiful. The Black or "silver gray" fox is found in Alaska but even there is rare and as far as I know has not been seen before in Mount Rainier National Park. The Black Fox noted was found at an elevation of 6,000 feet and in a climate closely resembling his Alaska habitat. The fox seen was entirely black with a long bush or tail the tip of which was white, the white showing very prominently as he trotted slowly away at a short distance stopping occasionally to look back to satisfy his curiosity which seemed to be as great as my own.

The Black Fox enjoys the distinction of having the highest price on his head of any fur-bearer. It is not uncommon for extra fine skins to sell in this country at from $600 to $1200.

The country traversed is in its upper portion the range of a large band of white goat. Fourteen members of this band were seen on Mildred Point, some of them quietly feeding on the hillside and others wallowing in the pumice on the ridge. There were five small kids in the band and two large Billy's. The band had evidently been driven down into the shelter of the timbers by the storms of the preceding days and were slowly making their way back to the high rocky crest which is their usual summer range.

Everywhere along the upper part of Cushman Crest were noted the dust wallows of these goat. Their range extends from the Kautz glacier over to the Nisqually glacier.

Deer are apparently quite common in the park lands of this region as everywhere their tracks are seen. Only one fine four-pronged buck was seen. This one posed quite gracefully on the hillside for us and seemed quite tame.

The bear seen was the half-grown brown cub which was seen on the road opposite the Miner's cabin two miles above Longmire. The little fellow has grown wise to the fact that whenever he gets hungry all he needs to do is to come out to the road and hold up the tourists as they come along.

For several days he has been doing this quite regularly, at about 5 o'clock P.M. He walks or stands beside the road and as soon as a car stops approaches and waits to be fed. People are especially requested not to tease the bear as they are the finest of animals to observe. They are if not spoiled, good tempered. They will stand up to be fed but grow cross and dangerous if teased. If they would take their revenge upon their tormentors all would be well but they do not always discriminate and it may be the innocent that will suffer.

Mount Rainier National Park is a game sanctuary and it is very gratifying to note that animal life is on the increase in the Park. Dogs and hunters are not allowed in the park and "hard-boiled" rangers now patrol the Park at all seasons to see that poachers do not cross the boundary lines of the Park. This with the destruction of the predatory animals such as the cougar and the coyote is already showing good results in the increase of animal life in the Park.

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