Like all alpine habitats, those of southwestern BC have relatively sparse wildlife due to the harsh climate and lack of vegetation. But our cute pikas are stout residents of the alpine and live at the highest elevations. They’re a small relative of the rabbit and hare and are known for their high-pitched calls. Since they do not hibernate in winter, I often think of them living their busy lives below as I ski tour on the barren snowscape above. I am fascinated by their mastery of, yet total reliance on, the alpine realm. Unfortunately, climate change poses a real threat with warming temperatures and diminishing snowpacks. They can die if exposed to consistent temperatures above the mid-twenties (Celsius), and they rely on the winter snowpack to insulate themselves from severe temperatures. Their habitats are isolated high-altitude islands, so pikas cannot migrate to colder latitudes. Because of this, pika populations are considered a bellwether of North American climate change.
Trucker: brown brim - brown mesh - snapback