If you've ever spotted a Pika consider yourself lucky because they won't be around for much longer. Not many people would recognize one if they saw it. Resembling a mix between a rabbit and a mouse it has the most adorable squeaky call.
My first encounter with a Pika was at the top of the switchbacks on our way to summit Mount Whitney. From that moment on, I was obsessed with finding them anytime we were in relatively high altitude.
I had a few more encounters in the years to follow but nothing compares to my time with them in Grand Teton. On the day before we finished our thru hike of Teton Crest, we came across a vast section of small boulders where I spotted several of them running around. I sat and watched.
After about an hour when no one else was around, during complete stillness one Pika approached cautiously. And then another.
Four of them sitting inches from me. Staring.
Starting to get comfortable they would occassionally yawn, take a nice stretch against the rock, give me another stare all within inches from me.
I barely moved. I barely took a breath and I shared a sunset with them.
Back home, I started researching conservation efforts to save the Pika and was disappointed by my findings. The only glimmer of hope was a document from the Center for Biological Diversity. It was an official request that the Pika be included on the Endangered Species list. That was 2010.
As temps rise in the alpine region from global warming, the Pika have difficulty keeping cool. Their warm fur coats intended for cold, now feel like wearing a heavy Patagonia down sweater you can't seem to escape.
They forage wildflowers as their only source of food. As the temperatures continue to climb and the droughts persist, these wildflowers will not be a dependable food supply. The Pika population is in decline and if we don't act now they won't survive.
Please, if you could spare some time to reach out to your State Representatives or message the Center for Biological Diversity urging them to protect the Pika. Contact information can be found below.
Any contribution you can make is worthwhile.
Shaye Wolf, Ph.D.
Center for Biological Diversity
1095 Market Street, Suite 511 San Francisco, CA 94103
ph: (415) 436-9682 ext. 301
fax: (415) 436-9683