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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

Wildlife Program Overview

Mason Reid, Wildlife Ecologist

Mount Rainier National Park

nps mission and policies
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)
role of wildlife program at mount rainier
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
status of ecological integrity wildlife
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
endangered species act of 1973
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
federally listed species and critical habitat
Federally-Listed Species and Critical Habitat
  • Northern Spotted Owl
  • Marbled Murrelet
  • Gray Wolf
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Wolverine
  • Canada Lynx
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Bull Trout
  • Steelhead
park project effects on wildlife
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
barred owl
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
rainier nso demographic study area
Rainier NSO Demographic Study Area
  • Park in one of 13 Demographic Study Areas across NSO range
  • Park represents ½ of NSO territories in DSA
marbled murrelet brachyramphus marmoratus
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.
murrelet monitoring
Murrelet Monitoring
  • Breeding areas
    • Carbon
    • Mowich
    • Puyallup
  • Occupied
    • Nisqually
  • Suitable
    • Ohanapecosh (?)
    • White
murrelet monitoring19
Murrelet Monitoring
  • Presence/Absence
    • Portable Marine Radar
      • Detects flying murrelets
  • Breeding
    • Audiovisual surveys
      • Vocalizations
      • Flight behavior
network monitoring
Network Monitoring
  • North Coast and Cascades Network (NCCN)
  • 7 Parks, 28 Networks in NPS
  • “Vital Signs”
  • Long-term natural resource monitoring program
elk monitoring nccn cervus elaphus
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
elk monitoring nccn
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
landbird monitoring nccn
Landbird Monitoring --NCCN
  • 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
current wildlife research projects
Current Wildlife Research Projects
  • Elk population evaluation
  • Effects of visitor use on corvid abundance
  • Butterfly distribution and range shift
climate change wildlife
Climate Change - Wildlife


  • Habitat loss
  • Changes in Distribution
  • Changes in Abundance
  • Changes in Phenology (Breeding, Migration, etc.)
more climate change effects
More Climate Change Effects
  • Increase of Diseases & Pests
  • Non-native definitions
  • Extirpations
  • Loss of species before they are identified


Pinyon mouse

mount rainier specifics
Mount Rainier Specifics
  • High elevation species vulnerable
  • Effects of habitat and temperature change
human dimensions of wildlife
Human Dimensions of Wildlife

Around the Park

  • Landscape fragmentation
  • Wildlife persecution/harvest
  • Road corridors
  • Other development
  • Contaminants
  • Range Expansion/Non-natives
human dimensions of wildlife32
Human Dimensions of Wildlife

Within the Park

  • Roadkill
  • Boundary impacts
  • Park development projects
  • Visitor-caused disturbance
  • Wildlife feeding
  • Wildlife habituation

Mount Rainier’s corvids


Steller’s Jay

Gray Jay

Clark’s Nutcracker

centennial project keep wildlife wild
Centennial Project:Keep Wildlife Wild
  • Wildlife feeding
  • Food storage
  • Attractant management
wildlife issues where you can help
Wildlife Issues Where You Can Help
  • Roadkill
  • Feeding & Food Storage
  • Incomplete Ecosystems
  • Climate – Changes from Species to Visitor Access – Choices for the Future
  • Wildlife Observations
  • Animal Incidents
  • Habituated Wildlife