A big thanks to Whittaker Mountaineering for helping to make this series on Mt. Rainier possible!
There are many cool animals on Mount Rainier. Some of them are not exactly “cuddly” looking. They’re big, with big teeth, or dangerous claws, or maybe they’re dirty and they stink. You don’t want to pick them up and pet them. You don’t even want to be near them.
But animals like the Cascade Red Fox are a different story. They look more like something you want to pick up and play with. Unique among foxes, they have bigger ears, softer thicker coats, and bushier tails that are quite large compared to their bodies.
Unfortunately, too many visitors to Mt. Rainier have let the “cuteness” of these unique foxes get the best of them. While people aren’t picking the foxes up and taking them home, they have been feeding them. And there’s a good reason why that’s against the park rules.
Mt. Rainier has a lot of traffic flowing throughout the year. When people throw food out to the animals from their cars, it draws the animals closer to the road. Sometimes the foxes will even build their burrows close to the road for this very reason. And it’s not hard to figure out the problem there. The foxes aren’t so cute and thankful after being hit by a car.
Feeding the foxes has also created a “pest” problem at campsites and visiting centers. The foxes have begun snooping around camps and getting into cars, looking for food. This puts both the fox and the campers in a dangerous situation. Each is capable of harming the other.
The population of Cascade Red Foxes is already a concern on Mt. Rainier. Feeding the foxes not only ruins the wild element of the park, a big part of what makes one desire to visit the mountain, but it makes it even less likely that one will be able to see these foxes in the future.
Please remember to respect the Park and its inhabitants. More information on the problem of feeding Cascade Red Foxes at Mt. Rainier can be found here. For general information on wildlife in Mount Rainier National Park check out this field guide, available from Whittaker Mountaineering.