Our Local Wildlife

Note: The mounted specimens at the Big Pines Visitor Center were not hunted.


Raccoon pelts are salt and pepper colored. Raccoons 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 from fruits, nuts, and grains, to insects, frogs, fish, and birds’ eggs. Washing their food enhances a raccoon’s sense of touch in its toes, helping it to 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 raccoon’s chief enemies are dogs, hunters, and cars.

Black Bear

The brown bear’s body is black or cinnamon. It has a keen sense of smell and climbs trees easily. Running up to 30mph in short bursts, black bears can range 15 miles. They live in dens under downed trees, hollow logs or trees, or in other shelter. Solitary, except when breeding and in garbage dumps, these bears are mainly vegetarian, but also eat fish, small mammals, eggs, carrion, honeycomb, bees, and garbage. In our area, bears do not hibernate during winter. They mate June to July every other year. Two to three cubs will be born in their winter den beginning a lifespan of up to 30 years. “Bear Trees” have tooth marks as high as a bear stands, with claw marks above to mark territory. Bears are dangerous when surprised, hungry, feeding, injured, or with cubs. The use of bear claws and pancreas as mythical aphrodisiacs is causing decline of bears outside parks.

Mountain Lion

The mountain lion’s coat is a yellowish, grayish, red-tawny color. Their habitat is generally wilderness, but may they may hunt in rural hills, also. 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, producing up to six cubs per litter which are then raised by the female over one to two years. The mountain lion’s only enemy is man.

Bighorn Sheep

The bighorn sheep’s 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.


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), that are then 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.
(Currently we are in need of a coyote specimen.)


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. It is a solitary, mostly nocturnal animal. 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. The bobcat is often killed by poison bait intended for coyotes.
(Currently we are in need of a specimen.)