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American Pikas: The Cute but Fierce Dwellers of the North Cascades

American pika, Ochotona princeps, (c) William C. Gladish

The American Pikas are arguably one of the cutest (if not the cutest) mammals in Washington. These cuddly looking creatures are closely related to rabbits and can be found in the mountains of western North America living in the boulder fields and talus near the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.  

Despite their appearances, American Pikas lead rugged lives. Pikas use snow to protect themselves from frigid temperatures that send other animals fleeing. In the summer months, they shed their layers and begin gathering plants in preparation for the winter ahead. This can-do-it attitude leaves them susceptible to climate change because they aren’t programmed to migrate to more temperate elevations during extreme highs or lows.  

These characteristics put the American Pika in the spotlight as City Light’s Wildlife Research Program is producing new information on the effects of climate change. Discover more about their findings here.  

The Skagit Valley is full of rare, beautiful wildlife that City Light is dedicated to protecting. Visit Skagit Tours for a chance to see some of this wildlife up-close on a Lake Diablo boat tour! If you are ever hiking near talus slopes during your visit, try and spot a Pika by listening for their distinctive “Eeeep” alarm call.  

Registration for the 2019 Skagit Tours season is now open at