Nature Notes

Ashford, Washington

Vol. III June-October 1989 No. 2

Nature Notes is issued by the Interpretive Staff of Mount Rainier National Park. Material contained herein may be used freely in any manner, provided credit is given to this pamphlet and the author.
William F. Dengler
Chief Naturalist
Neal G. Guse


The summer and fall wildlife observations have been rolling in. Thanks to those of you who sent in observations. Keep up the good work. Forty-six different species of animals were reported. There were over 100 sighting of bears. The first bear sighting occurred on 5/28 at Ricksecker Point. Many of the later sightings were of sows with cubs.

There were seventy bird observation cards filled out. Bird sightings included: bald and golden eagles, prairie falcons, peregrine falcons, pygmy and spotted owls, Cooper's hawk, northern harrier, rough legged hawk, red tailed hawk, ferruginous hawk, kestrels, northern goshawk, a flock of twenty-five geese, great blue heron, sharp tailed grouse, sanderlings, golden crowned kinglet, red breasted nuthatch, belted kingfishers, red crossbill, pileated woodpeckers, Harlequin ducks and a Townsend's solitaire.

East side observations include the following animal sightings; coyote, bobcat, red fox, elk, a possible "albino" Douglas squirrel, mountain beavers, a weasel which was seen fighting with chipmunks, a pine marten, marmots doing what marmots do best-eating and sleeping, a wolf and numerous sightings of goats and bears.

West side observations include numerous sightings of goats and bears, bobcats, two wolverine sightings near Paradise, numerous pine marten sightings have been reported by Carbon River Rangers. It seems that a "family" of five animals have taken up residence in the Ipsut Creek Campground. The campground roaming martens have provided hours of entertainment for the campers. Longmire interpreters report that the beaver watches have been very successful this summer. They state that there may be as many as seven beavers, some of them are young ones. Best viewing time is just before dark from the southeast side of the ponds along the Trail of the Shadows.


For CAT lovers: Twelve cougars were sighted this summer/fall, all of them on the west side of the park. One cougar was observed "sunning on a rock". Karla Tanner had the following close encounter with four cougars. "As I was driving downhill a little after 10 p.m. I rounded a curve about a half mile above Longmire and saw four cougars sitting in the roadway facing each other--two on one side of the center stripe and two on the other, as if they were having a conference. They were in no hurry to move on. A minute or so after my arrival, two left. The smaller of the remaining two challenged the larger one who chased it down the road about fifty feet. The smaller one then slowly walked into the forest and the larger cougar and only one left now came back and resumed his seat about twenty feet in front of the car. After a moment he sauntered down along the drivers side of the car and slowly back to the front, pausing briefly to look at me as he passed. (Can you imagine being six feet away from a big cat and have it pause to look you in the eye?) After a moment in front of the car again, the cougar walked away. Total time elapsed was about five minutes I'd guess."

BEARS: Rick Kirschner and his family, while on an outing to Louise Lake, "observed a medium to large sized black bear coming down the slope from the direction of Far Away rock toward Louise Lake, eating berries along the way. When he got to the lake the bear walked in and swam a distance of approximately two hundred feet in the water, before climbing out, shaking himself off, and walking away from the lake."

Although most bears sighted were feeding on berries, Ron Quirk observed one catching and eating fish at Bench Lake. Early this summer two visitors, while driving the Paradise Valley road noticed a deer acting strangely--it was running, then stopping and jumping erratically. When they stopped to watch more closely, they saw a large black bear with a fawn in its mouth.

DEER: The Sunrise staff report "One doe-sighted all summer-half grown yearling-unusual-umbilical cord still attached to the belly of the doe with placenta on end of cord. It does not seem to bother her. She's in good shape-plump and agile."

If you would like specific information on locations where the animals were sighted, we can supply the information for all animals except for the cougars and spotted owls. We are keeping their locations confidential in order to protect the animals.

When visitors report wildlife sightings please record on the observation card their name, address and phone number. The cards should be sent to Margaret Yates at Longmire. Thank you for your cooperation, and please keep those observation cards coming.

by Koko Schlottman & Margaret Yates

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