PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Up for a summertime game of I Spy? Well, you’re in luck because the Oregon Zoo is seeking volunteers to help spot American pikas living in the Columbia River Gorge.
Pikas are fluffy members of the rabbit family, approximately the size of a potato, whose high-pitched squeaks can be heard on rocky slopes throughout the Gorge, the zoo said.
The Oregon Zoo is calling on volunteers to help locate pikas and map populations to keep track of the little critters who they say are particularly vulnerable to global warming.
On May 11, 12 and 13, the Oregon Zoo is hosting a free crash course to help concerned citizens identify pikas and help participate in their project, the Cascades Pika Watch.
“By being eyes and ears on the ground, citizen scientists with Cascades Pika Watch can help us understand what’s happening with the pikas in this region,” said Dr. Johanna Varner, Cascades Pika Watch scientific advisor. “It’s a perfect opportunity to get outdoors and make a meaningful contribution to conservation science.”
According to the zoo, volunteering for the Cascades Pika Watch doesn’t require any special skills and all survey sites are accessible by public hiking trails.
The training on how to identify pikas in the field can be done virtually and you can sign up here.
In the past, the Pika Watch worked to document the pika population recovery in the Gorge following 2017’s Eagle Creek fire.