Wildlife is incredibly abundant on Pink Mountain. Moose, Black Bears, Elk, White tailed Deer, Stones Sheep, Woodland Caribou, Hoary Marmots, Pine Martin, Ptarmigan, Grouse, Horned Larks, Golden Eagles and other birds are seen on every trip to the summit.
The Elk and Deer are heavily hunted and are very wary so fleeting glimpses are pretty much all we get. Moose and black bears are more cooperative and will often pose for pictures.
On the summit Stones Sheep and Woodland Caribou are present almost every day. Both these animals seem to not know about humans and are far more curious than wary. They will often approach within five meters to investigate visitors.
In 1983 a Forest Service fire lookout was located on the highest point of Pink Mountain and manned throughout the summer. This provided an official presence on the summit that to some degree mitigated the behavior of casual visitors. Connected to this presence was an abundance of Hoary Marmots that were unafraid of people. In 2003 the fire lookout was abandoned and the Marmots were almost completely gone. The very few that were left were so wary that the mere sight of a human would send them scurrying down a burrow. The presumption is that without an official presence some local “sportsmen” shot all the tame Marmots. In 2010 the Marmot population had recovered somewhat though nowhere near the numbers of 1983. Even some of the old curiosity was back which provided good photo ops. In 2013 Marmot numbers had not apreciably increased. In 2014 only six animals were sighted. Much evidence of shooting - empty shells - and dead Marmots were found.
All photographs by Ron Long
Cow Moose on the road to the summit of Pink Mountain.
Black bears are a regular sight along the Pink Mountain road.
Pine Martin. A rare sight.
Stone’s Sheep are regularly seen on the summit of Pink Mountain.
On the summit of Pink Mountain the Caribou will approach closely out of pure curiosity.
It may not look like it but he is on watch. His hoary coat and flattened posture make him nearly invisible against the rocks – protection from his most likely predator the Golden Eagle.
Hoary Marmots are year round residents of the tundra but may spend eight months in hibernation.
In spring the skin of a Marmot appears to be four sizes too large.
After a summer of feeding the skin will be filled out by a thick layer of fat.
Young Marmots play fighting.
Another name for these animals is Whistling Marmot because of their high-pitched warning call that carries for great distances on the tundra. This highly alert Marmot has just heard a distant neighbor whistle and is searching for the danger.
This Silver Fox had clearly never encountered a human before.
It approached much closer than one would expect.
The Least Chipmunk is the smallest of the Chipmunks and weights only 1-2 ounces (35-70 grams) Its occurance on the Tundra of Pink Mountain, like several plants, is unusual as it is normally found below treeline.