Our Local Wildlife

Note: The mounted specimens at the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center were not hunted.

Raccoon

Raccoon pelts are salt and pepper colored. They are playful, curious and excellent swimmers. They feed mostly along streams, lakes and ponds, but will wander from water. Their dens are in hollow trees, logs, rock crevices or ground burrows. In cold weather, raccoons may sleep for several days, but do not hibernate. Chiefly nocturnal, raccoons are especially active during the autumn. They are solitary creatures except when breeding and caring for their young. Their diet varies; fruits, nuts, grains, insects, frogs, fish, birds’ eggs. Washing their food enhances a raccoons sense of touch in its toes helping them discern non-edible matter. They mate between February and March, bearing two to seven young in April or May. In fall, young raccoons may wander up to 160 miles, but mostly less than 30 miles. The raccoons chief enemies are dogs, hunters, and cars.

Bear

Body is black or cinnamon. Has keen sense of smell, climbs tress easily. Can run 30mph in short bursts, can range 15 miles. Dens under downed trees, hollow logs or trees or other shelter. Solitary, except when breeding and in garbage dumps. Mainly vegetarian, but also eats fish, small mammals, eggs, carrion, honeycomb, bees, garbage. Does not hibernate. In Fall, bears add a thick layer of fat to sustain them during winter sleep; bears without fat are active during winter. Mates June to July every other year. Two to three cubs born in winter den. Lifespan 30 years. “Bear Trees” have tooth marks as high as a bear stands, claw marks above to mark territory. Bears are dangerous when surprised, hungry, feeding, injured, or with cubs. Use of claws and pancreas as mythical aphrodisiacs is causing decline of bears outside parks.

Mountain Lion

The Mountain Lions’ coat is a yellowish, grayish, red-tawny color. Their habitat is generally wilderness, but may hunt in rural hills. The male may travel up to 25 miles in one night, is strongly territorial and mostly nocturnal. The Mountain Lion eats large mammals; one deer per week forms half its diet – culling from the older and weaker deer, keeping the herd healthy. Adults breed every two to three years, up to six kittens per litter which are raised by the female over one to two years. The Mountain Lions’ only enemy is man.

Bighorn Sheep

The Bighorn sheep color ranges from gray-brown to ash-gray; the belly and rump are white. In rams, the large and beautiful horns are thick and coiled, while in ewes the horns are smaller and not coiled. While separated in the summer, rams and ewes come together in the fall where rams of equal size challenge each other for the ewes. Charging at up to 20 mph, the rams butt heads loudly; their impact cushioned by double-thick skulls with struts of bone. The sheep eat sedge, grass, sagebrush and alpine plants. A single lamb is born between May and June and remains with their herd. With a lifespan of 14 years, the Bighorn sheep is threatened by weather, disease, and a loss of habitat due to intrusion.

Coyote

Color and size are variable. Mountain coyotes are larger and have longer fur than the desert coyote. Coyotes are vocal at night – sounding a series of yaps, a long howl, and then short yaps. They hold their tail between their legs while running, and can reach speeds of 40 mph. Their population range continues to increase despite hunting. Coyotes make their dens along river banks, and well-drained sides of canyons and gulches – often enlarging badger or squirrel burrows. They are chiefly nocturnal but can be active at any time. Coyotes usually hunt in pairs, they are omnivorous, but focus on small rodents. They mate between January and February, bearing up to seven pups in a litter (born between April and May); raised by both parents. In the past, livestock losses blamed on coyotes have often been the work of wild dogs. More recently, coyotes have earned the protection of some ranchers since they kill many grass-eating rodents.

Bobcat

Color ranges from gray-brown to reddish. Ear tufts are used like antennae to aid hearing. The Bobcat gets its name from its “bobbed” tail, and it is a solitary animal, mostly nocturnal. An excellent climber, they often rest on branches or atop large rocks to watch for passing prey. They eat smaller mammals like rabbits, mice and squirrels. Litters consist of one to seven kits born between April and May in a den of dry leaves in hollow logs, or the shelter of rock ledges and fallen trees. Their lifespan is 25 years, and the bobcat is often killed by poison bait intended for coyotes.