Jessica's Crappy Summer with Foxes at Mt. Rainier National Park


This past summer I had the opportunity to begin my thesis research at Mount Rainier National Park (MORA) by collecting Cascade red fox and coyote scat samples. My thesis project is looking at the prevalence of endoparasites and viruses within these wild canid species to help aid future conservation measures for the rare Cascade red fox. Scat samples were mostly collected by a team of wildlife surveyors working under my advisor and thesis reader, Tara Chestnut (MORA wildlife ecologist). Tara introduced me to the issues surrounding Cascade red fox and this potential project when I took her Disease Ecology elective during my first year in MES. My interest in the fox project was piqued because it combines my love of disease ecology and wildlife conservation.


On one visit to the mountain, my son Grayson and I joined up with one of the scat survey workers to hike a trail in search of scat. Prior to our hike drove up near Paradise to follow up on a report of a Cascade red fox pup sighting. After walking the road for several minutes, the mama fox appeared on the cliff-side and walked across the road. All of sudden, out popped two fox pups—one with a red coat and the other with black coat! What an experience! Check out the video I took of these pups running around and playing. (link: