Large mammals are the most easily seen creatures in our forests, and equally important are the small and obscure amphibians and fish that exist here.
As forest managers of the Mission community forest, our responsibilities go beyond just seeing the forest for the trees. When harvesting is proposed, we complete extensive inventories of creeks, plants, soils, and ecosystems to see how to best manage the site to protect wildlife trees and riparian features.
The District hires wildlife biologists to conduct fish testing on many creeks. Cutthroat trout are one of the species that inhabit our riparian areas. While they are very small in size, the genetic diversity of the trout throughout the forest make them regional important to ensure their habitat is protected, including no harvesting, using bridges to cross their creeks rather than culverts, and preventing siltation from entering streams.
A resident hiking on the Roy Kittles trail on McCoombs street sent us a photograph of a northern alligator lizard she found during her hike. Alligator lizards grow up to 20cm long and look a lot like a miniature alligator! They are commonly found in fir and hemlock forests, both on the coast and in the interior. These lizards use rocks and roadside features for basking in the sun and they will find a safe place to build their hibernation dens. They are seldom seen and if caught they will force out a bad smelling liquid from their vent, bite you or as a last resort, they will drop their tail and run away. Alligator lizards feed on various beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers, as well as spiders, snails and millipedes
Several studies have been carried out in our ponds and wetlands and a number of ideal habitats for red legged frogs have been identified and protected. Red legged frogs prefer the cool temperatures of the coastal forests and live in moist forests and wetlands with trees, breeding in shallow ponds or slow streams that are well shaded. Adult frogs spend much of their time on land, sometimes straying quite a distance from the water if the weather is damp. They will often take shelter under logs or other debris to stay cool and damp. This frog has a limited range in B.C., being found only in the southwestern part of the province. Their range extends southward as far south as California. Red-legged frogs are nationally listed as Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and they are on the provincial Blue List.
Other species you may come across out in our forests are the pacific- water shrew, coastal giant and northwest salamanders, rough-skinned newt, bull trout and many more. Good things come in small packages! If you spot a creature of interest, snap a picture and send the location along to us at firstname.lastname@example.org We would love to learn more areas where interesting species can be found.