It didn’t take long for 11-year-old Brooke Pollock to spot a pika on Loveland Pass last July.
One of the hamster-like critters darted between boulders, its cheeks stuffed with grass and leaves. Soon other pikas chirped from atop the rocks, warning their comrades to the human intruders.
“They’re just really cute,” Pollock said. “They look like little furry potatoes with big ears.”
Pollock was among dozens of volunteers training for the Front Range Pika Project last summer. For almost a decade, the Denver Zoo and nonprofit Rocky Mountain Wild have sent hikers to places where the rabbit-relatives have historically thrived. The goal is to gain a clearer picture of the pika population as Colorado warms, along with rest of the planet.
“We’re concerned they’re prone to disappearing due to climate change, but we don’t have enough information to know that,” said Megan Mueller, a project co-director with Rocky Mountain Wild.
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