Contact: Mason Reid, Wildlife Ecologist, 360-569-6771
Mount Rainier National Park has just begun a research project to assess visitor impacts on Cascade foxes (Vulpes vulpes cascadensis). The Cascade fox is a rare species currently known to inhabit only Mount Rainier and Mount Adams. Many of Mount Rainier's Cascade foxes have learned to get food from people, "begging" on roadways in the Paradise area, increasing the risk to both foxes and humans. The research will evaluate the ecological impacts on these foxes as a result of human activities, and will enable park managers to better manage visitor use and protect the foxes. The study is a cooperative effort between Mount Rainier and the USGS-Forestry and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center.
Visitors may see radio collars on some foxes. These radio collars automatically collect time and location information via GPS receivers. similar to what is used in a car or on the trails. Programmed to record time and location at 3.5 hour intervals, the collars will provide a wealth of information of how visitor use may alter the natural movements and habits of foxes.
Mount Rainier has had a persistent problem with people continually feeding the foxes, and this project is designed to better evaluate the behavioral responses of the foxes to this illegal and damaging practice. The substantial ongoing efforts to educate the public and enforce no-feeding laws will continue. Results of this study will lead researchers to better understanding human impacts and develop new ways of protecting the foxes and keeping our wildlife wild.