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Wildlife Program Overview Mason Reid, Wildlife Ecologist Mount Rainier National Park NPS Mission and Policies Organic Act and NPS Policies

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Wildlife Program Overview

Mason Reid, Wildlife Ecologist

Mount Rainier National Park

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NPS Mission and Policies

Organic Act and NPS Policies

  • which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. (16 USC 1)

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Role of Wildlife Program at Mount Rainier

  • Responsible for the protection and understanding of wildlife

  • Evaluate impairment

  • At Mount Rainier you can find:

    • at least 56 mammal species;

    • 17 species of amphibians and reptiles;

    • more than 229 species of birds use the park;

    • 8 species of native fish;

    • but invertebrates probably represent 85% of the animal biomass in the park

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Status of Ecological Integrity - Wildlife

  • Park establishment – Protects communities within the park

  • Many mid-larger size vertebrates are far ranging

  • Park “island effect”

  • Old growth forests, subalpine meadows – appear largely intact

  • Missing most of the system’s carnivores –many others in decline – significant implications

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Endangered Species Act of 1973

  • All Federal agencies are required to undertake programs for the conservation of endangered and threatened species, and are prohibited from authorizing, funding, or carrying out any action that will jeopardize a listed species or destroy or modify its "critical habitat" [section 7];

  • ESA in place to recover species in jeopardy

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Federally-Listed Species and Critical Habitat

  • Northern Spotted Owl

  • Marbled Murrelet

  • Gray Wolf

  • Grizzly Bear

  • Wolverine

  • Canada Lynx

  • Chinook Salmon

  • Bull Trout

  • Steelhead

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Park Project Effects on Wildlife

Construction/maintenance project effects on wildlife

  • Direct – roadkill mortality

  • Indirect – habitat loss; noise, lights and other disturbance; artificial food sources

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Barred Owl

  • Larger and more aggressive than spotted owl.

  • Same genus (Strix) as spotted owl.

  • Considered a threat to NSO but only recently some supporting evidence

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Rainier NSO Demographic Study Area

  • Park in one of 13 Demographic Study Areas across NSO range

  • Park represents ½ of NSO territories in DSA

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Marbled MurreletBrachyramphus marmoratus

  • Listed as a threatened species by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Washington.

  • Marbled murrelet nesting habitat in the Park is forests older than 100 years and below 3,500 feet.

  • There are approximately 10,000 ha (25,000 acres) of suitable marbled murrelet nesting habitat in the Park.

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Murrelet Monitoring

  • Breeding areas

    • Carbon

    • Mowich

    • Puyallup

  • Occupied

    • Nisqually

  • Suitable

    • Ohanapecosh (?)

    • White

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Murrelet Monitoring

  • Presence/Absence

    • Portable Marine Radar

      • Detects flying murrelets

  • Breeding

    • Audiovisual surveys

      • Vocalizations

      • Flight behavior

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Network Monitoring

  • North Coast and Cascades Network (NCCN)

  • 7 Parks, 28 Networks in NPS

  • “Vital Signs”

  • Long-term natural resource monitoring program

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Elk Monitoring – NCCNCervus elaphus

  • Identified as important to monitor in MORA, OLYM and LEWI

  • Monitoring protocol under development

  • Elk have an important ecological role and are highly bio-political species (tribes, state, others)

  • Long history of elk issues

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Elk Monitoring -- NCCN

  • Most elk in park are migratory – few reside year-round (Ohanapecosh watershed)

  • North and South Herds

  • Aerial surveys – Autumn

  • One of the longest-running annual monitoring programs at MORA

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Landbird Monitoring --NCCN Park

  • Point counts to determine trends and bird density in selected areas of the park

  • Sample design with transects that start off roads and trails parkwide

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Current Wildlife Research Projects Park

  • Elk population evaluation

  • Effects of visitor use on corvid abundance

  • Butterfly distribution and range shift

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Climate Change - Wildlife Park


  • Habitat loss

  • Changes in Distribution

  • Changes in Abundance

  • Changes in Phenology (Breeding, Migration, etc.)

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More Climate Change Effects Park

  • Increase of Diseases & Pests

  • Non-native definitions

  • Extirpations

  • Loss of species before they are identified

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Pika Park

Pinyon mouse

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Mount Rainier Specifics Park

  • High elevation species vulnerable

  • Effects of habitat and temperature change

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Human Dimensions of Wildlife Park

Around the Park

  • Landscape fragmentation

  • Wildlife persecution/harvest

  • Road corridors

  • Other development

  • Contaminants

  • Range Expansion/Non-natives

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Human Dimensions of Wildlife Park

Within the Park

  • Roadkill

  • Boundary impacts

  • Park development projects

  • Visitor-caused disturbance

  • Wildlife feeding

  • Wildlife habituation

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Mount Rainier’s Parkcorvids


Steller’s Jay

Gray Jay

Clark’s Nutcracker

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Centennial Project: ParkKeep Wildlife Wild

  • Wildlife feeding

  • Food storage

  • Attractant management

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Wildlife Issues Where You Can Help Park

  • Roadkill

  • Feeding & Food Storage

  • Incomplete Ecosystems

  • Climate – Changes from Species to Visitor Access – Choices for the Future

  • Wildlife Observations

  • Animal Incidents

  • Habituated Wildlife