For the Love of Pika

The Mountaineers is partnering with the Point Defiance Zoo to help collect data on Pika, an important climate indicator species.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
May 02, 2017
For the Love of Pika

If you're a hiker, scrambler, or climber in the PNW, you likely spend your summers crossing talus slopes while listening and looking for  one of these adorable little fur balls: the pika. Now you can use your hobby to contribute to an important monitoring project with almost no effort.

This summer, we're partnering with the Point Defiance Zoo to collect baseline data on pika, a species disappearing from some regions of our country, in a project called Peaking for Pika.

pika image

The Point Defiance Zoo, in partnership with the Oregon Zoo, is striving to have accurate baseline data on the number of pikas in the PNW to track their growth or decline in future years. Pikas are a climate indicator species. Scientists use data from climate indicator species to track the effects of climate change. By participating in this process, you're helping science and working to protect these little munchkins from extinction.


During your wilderness travels, keep an eye out for signs of pika. Signs include sightings, hearing their call, or witnessing other evidence of their presence. When you find evidence of a pika, pull out your phone, open the app, and document that experience. Simple as that!


In the past 2 years, this project has recorded 157 cumulative sightings. As Mountaineers, we're in pika habitat all the time. In fact, an average summer weekend last year we had 30 hiking, scrambling, and climbing trips - almost all of which went into pika territory. That's more than 300 trips a year to pika habitat and potentially 300 sightings added! This partnership is a critical way that our members can, with very little effort, contribute in a major way to a very important project.

How you get started

  1. Attend a 2-hour training to learn about the pika and what to look for when traveling in pika terrain (pizza provided!).
  2. Download the app provided at the training, where you'll record your findings.
  3. Get out and find some pikas (kind of like Pokemon with a purpose... if you're into that sort of thing)!

rsvp for the May 8 training in Seattle

RSVP FOR THE may 15 training in Olympia

rsvp for the June 8 training in Tacoma


Peaking for Pikas is a subset of the Oregon Zoo’s Cascades Pika Watch program. The project opens the world of the American Pika to volunteers as they hike in the Cascade Mountains to document these potato sized rock rabbits. When volunteers come across a pika or signs of a pika they are asked to collect location data, how many animals they detected, and basic conditions of the site (weather). This data is then submitted to and compiled to create a baseline of the American Pikas distribution in the Cascade Mountains.

Purpose: The American Pika is a species that is sensitive to high temperatures making them susceptible to the effects of climate change. This species ranges within the mountains of western North America and are adapted to living on and in talus fields (rock slides). Given their specific habitat needs they are limited to where they can be displaced to avoid a warming planet. Cascades Pika Watch aims to create a baseline distribution of the American Pika in the Cascade Mountains of Washington and Oregon to then monitor for change over time.

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