Bigger Critters of Mt. Rainier

There are enough little critters in Mount Rainier National Park to keep people interested year after year.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Mount Rainier is full of life one could hardly expect to see it all.

There are a few big cats that roam around the mountainside.  They are rarely seen by people though, so you don’t have to worry much about being attacked by one.  Just remember to keep animals on a leash and to not let small children wonder off.  Keeping your food packed up and your campsite clean will also add safety to your visit.  And if you see one… don’t pet it.

Here are three of the parks big furballs…

Puma/Cougar/Mountain Lion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobcat:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynx (not seen in the park since 1906)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve posted before on a couple of the deer, but here are some more pictures…

Elk/Wapiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Tailed Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mule Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The deer I’ve seen around the park, and it’s cool every time.  I’m still hoping to see a big cat!  The more we can get out there to camp on Mt. Rainier the more chances we’ll have to see one.  And it’s that time again to resupply for summer camping.  Time for a visit to Whittaker Mountaineering!

I’ve probably said this a hundred times, but I know it’s truer every time I think about it… God is amazing!!!  If it’s overwhelming to see His creatures here in this world, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like to see the heavenly ones someday!  Praise God!!!

Roaming the Subalpine Zone of Mount Rainier

As you climb between 4,500 and 6,000 feet you’ll notice that the trees begin to thin into the famous meadows of Mt. Rainier.  This is the Subalpine Life Zone of Mount Rainier.  Some argue it is the most beautiful place in all of Washington.  And it isn’t just people that enjoy this area.

Black Tail Deer

Black Tailed Deer

Black Tailed Deer roam all around Mt. Rainier, but they love to graze in the sunbathed subalpine meadows.  These animals are a favorite game for hunters, but here in Mt. Rainier they enjoy protection from hunting.  They are not protected, however, from traffic.  These deer move about mostly during dawn and dusk, when the lack of light makes it somewhat difficult for drivers to see them.  Always be cautious and on the lookout for them when driving during these times.

These may be the most commonly seen large animals in the park.  If you’re quick with the camera you’ll find they pose nicely for your shots.  And thanks to William, my awesome Irish Wolfhound/Siberian Husky mix, I found out that the deer aren’t too spooked by dogs whining at them through car windows.  The deer and dog held each other’s gaze for quite some time.  I really wanted to let the animals interact, but letting my dog out would have been not only illegal, but dangerous for both animals.  At least they shared that moment through the window.

Elk

Elk

Elk can be found in the Subalpine Zone as well.  The moose is the only deer species larger than the elk, and occasionally a large Sambar deer will match an elk’s size.  Like the black tail deer, these big creatures roam about when the sun is close to the horizon.  So be careful when driving through the park at those times, the animal and your car will appreciate it!

The bugling of elks is a well known sound, and very easy to pick out.  The louder a male’s bugle, the more females he will attract.  Sometimes they use their large antlers and powerful front leg kicks to fight for mating rights.  Be careful if you are close to an elk, those antlers and kicks can do a man in.

Other animals can be found in the Subalpine Zone of Mount Rainier.  It’s a good place to get pictures of wildlife, especially during the spring when the meadows are ablaze with color.  God is amazing, and His creations are beautiful!

If you’re camping out in the Subalpine Zone of the mountain, remember that it’s pretty cold at night.  Make sure to pack warm clothes, good sleeping bags, and quality tents.  These and other resources can be found at www.whitakermountaineering.com.  Check out their sales, and remember that submitting a product review could win you $200!

Mount Rainier- Life Zones

I want to start by giving a big thanks once again to Whittaker Mountaineering for helping to bring these weekly posts on Mt. Rainier!

So we’ve started into our series on wildlife in Mount Rainier National Park, and I realized that there is one element we should take a look at before going on any further… Life Zones. 

Because these Life Zones separate where you will typically find specific types of wildlife, it will be good for us to have this sort of “animal map” in mind.  Keep in mind that some animals live across multiple Life Zones, generally driven there and there by the seasons.

These Life Zones also apply to vegetation, which Lord willing we will discuss in future posts.  One of the amazing things about Mount Rainier National Park is that it is one of the few places in Washington where you can see so many life zones in one place.

There are a number of ways to classify and differentiate Life Zones.  Different areas of the world require different systems of classification to account for certain variables.  It would seem that for Mount Rainier the common method of defining Life Zone is by altitude. 

Lowland Forest Zone

The Lowland Forest Zone is the zone in which we enter the park.  Mostly you will find smaller creatures here.  It lies between the 2,000 to 2,900 ft. elevation marks.

Pacific Silver Fir Zone

This zone lies between 2,900 and 4,500 ft, where the air temperature really begins to cool down.  Here you may find squirrels flying around in the trees, and bear cubs up there watching them.

Subalpine Zone

Between 4,500 and 6,000 ft you’ll find the Subalpine Zone.  It’s even colder here than in the Pacific Silver Fir Zone, so look for open meadows so you can soak in some sunlight.    Remember to keep your eyes peeled for elk and deer in this zone!

Alpine Zone

This is where the trees stop.  It starts between 6,000 and 7,500 ft, and goes all the way up to the top of Mt. Rainier (14,410 ft).  Permanent snow and ice can be found here, limiting the number of species that can live here.  Look for big vermin like the Pika or the Marmot.  Alpine insects like the Ice Worm (which “melt” in above freezing temperatures) can also be found here.

With these Life Zones in mind we can have a better idea of where particular creatures can be found on Mt. Rainier.  Tune in next week as we dive further into the wildlife of Mt. Rainier.

A big thanks to ecologist Jim Schaberl, biologist Mason Reid and park ranger/Volunteer Program Manager Kevin Bacher!  All three of these men have a measure of experience on Mt. Rainier, and have given of their valuable time to help make this and future posts possible.

Also, remember to check out this field guide, available from Whittaker Mountaineering.

 Thanks for reading, and praise God who created our beautiful Mt. Rainier!!!