Pika watchers sought for summer season in Columbia River Gorge

American pika
American pika(U.S. Geological Survey via AP)
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 11:08 AM PDT
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COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, Ore. (KPTV) - The Oregon Zoo is seeking volunteers to help track a fluffy resident of the Columbia River Gorge this summer.

Cascades Pika Watch helps locate and map American pika populations. Pikas, which are potato-sized members of the rabbit family, are known for their squeak-toy alarm calls frequently heard among the rocky slopes of the Cascade volcanoes throughout the Gorge.

SEE ALSO: Rare wolverine spotted along Columbia River in Portland

“The Columbia River Gorge is the lowest elevation where we find this species,” said Cascades Pika Watch scientific advisor Dr. Johanna Varner. “We can learn a lot from monitoring them in this unusual habitat.”

The zoo will be offering free courses on how to identify pikas and participate in the project. The courses will be held May 11, 12 and 13.

Pika watch volunteers have helped document the Gorge population’s recovery following the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire.

“By being eyes and ears on the ground, citizen scientists with Cascades Pika Watch can help us understand what’s happening with the pikas in this region,” said Varner. “It’s a perfect opportunity to get outdoors and make a meaningful contribution to conservation science.”

To register for the free courses, click here.

The zoo says if you can’t commit to survey this summer but will be out on the trails and still want to participate, you can report you pika sightings here.