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Animals

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The Animals of Bear Country

Bear Country USA is home to 20 species of North American mammals which live in large natural exhibits. While captive born, every effort is made to imitate a wild environment for our animal residents. Larger species roam freely throughout 250 acres of the drive-thru park. Smaller animals, as well as those younger than one year, are exhibited in the Babyland area. Visitors can observe these animals while strolling on foot.

Arctic Wolf


arctic_wolf

Arctic Wolf

SIZE

HEIGHT: To shoulder 25-31 in.
LENGTH: Head and body, 3-5 ft.
WEIGHT: Up to 175 lb., female lighter

BREEDING

MATURITY: Males: 3 years
Female: 2 years
MATING: March
GESTATION: 63 Days
YOUNG: Called a litter: 4-5 Cubs

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Family oriented; packs of 7-10
DIET: Mainly arctic hares, mush ox, caribou, and lemmings
LIFESPAN: 8-16 years (20 in captivity)

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Classified as “Canis lupus arctos” The arctic wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf. Others include the Timber wolf of America and the common wolf of Eurasia.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Arctic wolves inhabit some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world: tundra, rolling hills, glacier valleys, ice fields, shallow lakes and green flats. They can live in places where the temperature is consistently below zero and the ground is always frozen. The arctic wolf is one of the few mammals that can tolerate these conditions. They have a keen sense of sight, smell, and hearing. The wolf preys on lemmings and arctic hare, but its most substantial source of food is the musk ox and caribou. Since there is not much grass on the “frozen tundra”, the wolf must travel great distances to find food.

A single wolf pack often travels distances up to 800 square miles in search of prey. When the temperature drops, the pack will follow the migrating animals south. Wolves usually live in small packs, or family groups, that consist of a breeding pair (the alpha male and female), their cubs, and their unmated offspring. All the wolves in the pack look up to and follow the Alpha male and female. The pack cooperates in feeding and caring for the cubs. Lone wolves are usually young males that have left the pack in search of their own territories. They avoid other wolves, unless they are potential mates. When a lone wolf finds unoccupied territory, it will claim it by marking it with its scent. The wolf will then start it’s own pack when other lone wolves enter the territory.

Wolves must hunt in packs because the animals they hunt (e.g. caribou) are too large for a single wolf to take down. Surprise attacks are almost impossible in the tundra. Once the pack has found a herd of caribou, the caribou will form a circle to protect their young. The wolves now have to somehow get the caribou to shift. To accomplish this, one wolf will move from side to side to try and get the caribou to shift. Once the wolf sees the chance, it acts. Once the wolves have infiltrated the circle the caribou will flee. The wolves will then take down the smaller and weak animals. This is the classic case of “Only the strongest will survive”.

The wolves are always on the move in the fall and winter. But after mating in March, the pregnant female will leave the pack to find a nursery den. Since the ground is often frozen, she is often forced to return to an old den. The cubs are born deaf, blind and helpless. They are totally dependent upon their mother, and she in turn relies on her mate to bring her the food she needs. After about four weeks, the cubs are able to eat meat. The whole pack shares in the job of feeding them with regurgitated meat from a kill. After about a year, the cubs break away of their dependence on their mother and go out on their own.

Badger


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Badger

SIZE

HEIGHT: 8-12 in.
LENGTH: 18-26 in.
WEIGHT: 13-25 lbs.

BREEDING

MATURITY: N/A
MATING: Young are born Feb.-May, depending on altitude and latitude.
GESTATION: N/A
YOUNG: 2-5 young at a time. Blind at birth.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Mostly nocturnal, but often roam around during the day.
Excellent digger. Solitary.
DIET: Mainly small rodents.
LIFESPAN: Up to 12 years in captivity.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Classified as “Taxidea taxus”.
Related to the “European badger”

GENERAL INFORMATION

The badger prefers open plains, farmlands and the edges of woods. They can also reside in mountainous areas up as far as the arctic-alpine zone, farmland, marshy areas, prairies and deserts. The American badger can be found right across the western two-thirds of the US, and the range extends into Canada in the North and Mexico in the south.

The American Badger is the largest member of the “weasel” family. It has a distinctive black-and-white face and a white stripe from its nose to its shoulders. The wild, flat body is yellowish gray that becomes more yellowish on the tail and belly. It has short black legs with extremely long front claws, which it uses for digging rodents from the ground. The open burrows dug are very dangerous to rancher’s livestock. It feeds on ground squirrels, gophers, rats, mice, birds, and even rattlesnakes. Its long hair protects it from snakebites, unless a snake strikes it directly on the nose. This very ferocious animal has few enemies. They have been known to attack and kill animals as big as a horse. The Badger forages day and night, but is more nocturnal where humans threaten it. A badger can weigh up to 25 pounds and defends itself when cornered.

Weights vary greatly. Except in those parts of its range where the badger lives in warm conditions all year round, the animal puts on a great deal of body fat over the summer to see it through the winter, and weights are at their greatest at the onset of the cold season.

American badgers are loners, leading solitary lives except when males and females meet up to mate, and when females are rearing their young. Although they generally avoid contact with each other, American badgers occupy large ranges that sometimes overlap. If one badger meets another, they will attack each other.

Its hair is used to make paintbrushes, and the coarse bristles were formerly used in shaving brushes. Forest succession and encroachment into grasslands is reducing the habitat of the badger, an animal vital in controlling rodent populations.

Beaver


Beaver

Beaver

SIZE

HEIGHT: 12 in.
LENGTH: 35.43 to 46.06 in.
WEIGHT: 28.6 to 70.4 lbs.

BREEDING

MATURITY: 3 years.
MATING: January or February
GESTATION: 3 months.
YOUNG: 1-4 kits.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Nocturnal, monogamous, but if one mate dies, the other will “remarry”, or seek out a new mate.
DIET: Herbivores (eat vegeatation only) and eat the tree bark, branches, and trunks from Poplar, Willow, and Aspen trees
LIFESPAN: 10-20 years (23 years captivity)

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Family: Castoridae Scientific Name: Castor canadensis

GENERAL INFORMATION

Beavers are found throughout all of North America except for the northern regions of Canada and the deserts of the southern United States and Mexico

The Beaver is North America’s largest rodent.

Beavers live in lodges, of which there are three types: those built on islands, those built on the banks of ponds, and those built on the shores of lakes. The island lodge consists of a central chamber, with its floor slightly above the water level, and with two entrances. One entrance opens up into the center of the hut floor, while the other is a more abrupt descent into the water. (Encarta, 2004)

Beavers have dark brown fur; large chestnut colored incisors; a black scaly tail; and webbed hind feet. Beaver fur is water repellent. Their nose and ears have valves that allow them to close underwater, and a thin membrane covers each eye to protect the beaver while swimming under water.

Beaver secrete Castorium, which is used in attracting a mate and marking territories, this is what gives the beaver its odd odor.

Bighorn Sheep


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Bighorn Sheep

SIZE

HEIGHT: 2.5-3.5 ft. to shoulder
LENGTH: N/A
WEIGHT: Males (Rams) range from 125 to 275 lb.
Females (Ewes) usually weight in at 75 to 150 lb.

BREEDING

MATURITY: Females breed at 2.5 years.
MATING: Young are usually born from May to June.
GESTATION: About 180 days.
YOUNG: 1, sometimes 2.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Gregarious. Rams usually separate in the Summer and rejoin with family in Fall.
DIET: Both a browser and a grazer. They feed on a great variety of plants.
LIFESPAN: Aver. of 8 years. Can live up to 17.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Similar species: Rocky Mountain Goat, Deer, and Pronghorn (antelope). Bighorn are classified as “Ovis canadensis”

GENERAL INFORMATION

Bighorn Sheep can be found in all of the southwestern deserts. In places such as the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of southeast California, Arizona and New Mexico. They reside in the foothills near rocky cliffs and permanent water when seasonally available. Bighorn Sheep rarely inhabit areas that are disturbed by humans. Bighorns spend their summers (when applicable) high in the alpine zone on grass-covered slopes. In winter, they may migrate a considerable distance to reach south or southwest-facing slopes where snow cover is minimal.

The Bighorn is covered with a brown coat. It’s belly, rump, back of legs, muzzle and eye patch are all white. The male has a hard and thick set of horns. The horns spiral backwards from the top of the head. The Bighorn Sheep is an excellent climber and jumper.

Bighorns are generally active during the day, feeding morning, noon and evening, then lying down to chew their cud. They retire to their bedding areas for the night, which may be used for many years.

The rutting season is from mid-September to late October. During this time, the males have butting contests where they “butt” each other with their horns. During this, they can reach speeds of 50-70 miles per hour and an estimated force of 2400 pounds.

Bighorn Sheep have superior eyesight and agility and therefore, have few natural predators. What is threatening to them is destruction of their natural habitat and diseases.

Black Bear


blackbear

Black Bear

SIZE

HEIGHT: On all four’s: 3-4 ft. Standing: 4-7 ft.
LENGTH: 4-6 ft.
WEIGHT: Average male 425 lbs.
Average female 200 lbs.

BREEDING

MATURITY: About three years old.
MATING: Mating occurs in Late June and Early July.
GESTATION: About 7 months.
YOUNG: 1-5 cubs a year.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Solitary, but come together for breeding.
DIET: Omnivorous: which means it eats fruits, nuts, vegetables, breads and meat.
LIFESPAN: Can live up to 25 years.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Family: “Ursidae”. Classified as: “Ursus americanus”

GENERAL INFORMATION

At Bear Country we have over 100 black bear, the world’s largest privately owned collection. In the wild, black bears live primarily in eastern forests, swamps, and western forests and wooded mountains. You rarely spot them higher than 7,000 feet.

To date, the total black bear population in North America is close to pre-settlement numbers – about 1 million. In the US alone there are more than an estimated 600,000 black bear. Stable populations of black bears are found in 38 states and most of Canada. Their range is extensive: Most of Canada, south on the West Coast through northern California, in Rocky Mountain states to Mexico, north MN, WI, and MI; in New England, NY and PA through the Appalachians; in the Southeast, most of Florida and southern Louisiana. They have recently been seen in Texas as well.

The black bear is omnivorous which means it eats vegetables, fruit, breads and meat. We also have a special “bear cake” produced at a local mill that provides them with all the necessary vitamins and nutrients. During autumn, they eat more than usual to gain body fat to sustain them through their winter “hibernation”. Bears do not hibernate, but rather fall into a deep sleep from which they can awaken quickly. When food is abundant, they will eat up to 45 lbs. a day and put on 5 lbs. per day in preparation for winter. During “hibernation”, the bear may only eat once a week, or if it is very cold he will not eat for a month. While “hibernating”, the black bear does not urinate or defecate. Bear Country participates with researchers at the University of Illinois in a project to study how the bear recycles toxins during “hibernation” with the hope of helping people with kidney disease and osteoporosis.

Breeding season is in late June to early July. The fertilized egg matures to the blastocyst stage and goes dormant. Blastocyst will not implant in the uterus until late November. In early December, embryo development proceeds normally (delayed implantation: a process shared with badgers, mink, weasels, otters, and wolverines). Birth occurs in late January. Gestation is approximately 7 months. The delay in gestation is approximately 5 months and true gestation is approximately 8 weeks. A black bear usually has between 1 to 5 cubs.

The cubs are born during the “hibernation period” in late January. When they are born, they weigh about nine ounces and are the size of a stick of butter. From then on, they grow very quickly. In March, when they weigh three to five pounds, we harvest the cubs from their dens. By May they can be 12 to 20 pounds. While they are on display in our Wildlife Center, their weight will increase to about 75 pounds by the end of the summer. An adult male can weigh as much as 650 pounds, but usually is about 450 to 500 pounds at full weight. The female will reach a maximum weight of almost 400 pounds.

The black bear’s name is deceptive. It is a species name and does not refer to their color. They can range from pure black to cinnamon to blonde. Black bears in the East are nearly black, while those in the West are black to cinnamon with a white blaze on their chest. The black bears in Alaska can have a blue or white color phase to blend with their snowy surroundings.

You will notice many black bears in trees. Unlike the grizzly, who does not have claws that are well-adapted for climbing, the black bear is a very proficient climber. The black bear’s curved claws allow them to easily and quickly climb high into trees and will often sleep in the crotch of branches. Grizzly bears, on the other hand, climb by hugging the tree and grasping branches with their mouth to pull themselves upward. Their claws are straighter, longer and adapted for digging.

Black bears are similar to hogs and are even named the same–males are boars and females are sows, but babies are called cubs. They can live to be about 25 years old.

Black bears breed in June and early July, but the cubs are not born until January. Researchers have found that the gestation period is not as long as it appears. There is a delayed implantation of the fertilized egg in the female bear in December and the gestation period is only eight weeks. This would explain the extremely small size of the newborn cub. Research is this area continues in the wild by government and conservation agencies.

You will notice that some younger black bears have coats that are shedding. They do not reach their full size, coat appearance or breeding age until they are about three years old. They seem to go through a sort of “puberty” stage between their first and third years.

Bear Country does sometimes take in orphaned bear cubs. We have a very famous cub named Coconino. Some hikers found her in 1990 at Big Bear in California. Her eyes were still closed and her umbilical cord attached, an obvious newborn. The hikers took her to a local vet who called Bear Country for advice on feeding the orphan. They named her Coconino, which means “little brown one” in Spanish. She is called Coco for short. The Department of Fish and Game in California found out the vet and his wife had this bear and was going to confiscate her, sending her to a rehabilitation center and turn her back into the wild. The vet and some concerned citizens knew that the cub could never survive in the wild after being hand-raised. They went to the intended rehab center and found that it was visitor facilities that allowed too much contact with humans and did not properly train the animals so survive in the wild. Soon all of Big Bear was on the campaign to find Coco a suitable home. She was featured on the news magazine show “Hard Copy.” Finally, by ruling of the court Coco was given to Bear Country, where she arrived under the media’s watchful eye. Here she is able to live a captive life in a natural environment. She quickly acclimated to the other cubs and seemed to enjoy their company. Some of Coco’s “friends” from Big Bear have come to visit her and they agree that she is in the best possible situation. Bear Country received several letters from her “friends” thanking us for allowing Coco to live here.

Bobcat


bobcat

Bobcat

SIZE

HEIGHT: To shoulder: 12-18 in.
LENGTH: 25-30 in.
WEIGHT: 15-60 lbs.

BREEDING

MATURITY: N/A
MATING: Young can be born in any month, but are usually born in the spring.
GESTATION: 50-60 days.
YOUNG: 1-7 kittens, but usually 2.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Mostly nocturnal and solitary.
DIET: Small mammals and birds.
LIFESPAN: 15 to 25 years in captivity.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Similar species: Lynx and other cats. Classified as “Lynx rufus”.

GENERAL INFORMATION

The bobcat primarily occurs in scrubby country and broken forests, but adapts to swamps, farmlands and arid lands if they are rocky or brushy. They range from coast to coast throughout southern Canada.

The Bobcat is gray with distinct black spots. The tail is short and stubby with 2 or 3 black bars. The face has broken black lines that radiate onto the cheek.

is an excellent climber who often waits in the trees to pounce on their prey that includes rodents, hares, squirrels and birds; they also may take the occasional deer. Predators of the bobcat include cougars, coyotes, wolves and humans, who use their fur for trim.

The Bobcat may wander 25- 50 miles, but usually only venture 2 or 3 miles from their territory. The female bobcat is territorial, staking out a home range that varies from two to more than 40 square miles, with overlapping of female boundaries uncommon. Territorial boundaries are marked with urine, scent from anal glands, and feces deposited on the ground and vegetation during frequent boundary patrols. Male territories frequently overlap those of other males, and usually contain the territories of a number of females. Availability of food is the primary factor in determination of the extent of overlap in territorial boundaries. During the breeding season, the two sexes seek each other briefly, resuming their solitary ways after several days. Mating generally occurs in late winter to early spring resulting in two to four offspring arriving after a gestation period of about 60 days. The kittens are generally born in secluded dens, varying greatly depending on local habitat, including rocky outcrops, abandoned burrows, brushy thickets and rotting snags. Blind at birth and weighing less than one pound, the kittens are entirely dependant on their mother for protection and nourishment, although it is not unusual for the male bobcat to help provide food. The kittens first venture from the den at the age of five weeks and by nine months, become more independent and venture out to establish territories of their own.

Buffalo


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Buffalo

SIZE

HEIGHT: 5-6 ft.
LENGTH: 6-7 ft.
Tail Length: 3 ft.
WEIGHT: 800-2000 lbs.

BREEDING

MATURITY: 2-3 years.
MATING: July to October.
GESTATION: About 9 months.
YOUNG: Normally 1.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Diurnal; gregarious.
DIET: A grazing animal, feeds mostly on grasses.
LIFESPAN: 15-20 years, may live up to 30 years

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Classified as “Bison bison”. Common name “Bison”.
Related to domestic cattle.

GENERAL INFORMATION

During the 15th century, buffalo dominated the American plains with numbers over 60 million. The Plains Indians followed herds sometimes up to 200 miles across the prairies. The Indians depended on the animal for survival and used every part of the buffalo. They used: hides for teepees and clothing, bones for tools and toys, the meat for food, tendons and muscles for sinewy sewing thread and bowstrings, horns for cups and spoons. They used the brains for hide tanning, the eyes for liquid paint thickener, and the buffalo chips for fuel and baby powder. The destruction of the animal, leading almost to extinction, began in 1830 when government policy advocated their extermination to subdue the “hostile” tribes through starvation. By 1900, less than 1000 buffalo remained. But thanks to federal regulation and careful breeding, there are now about 30,000 buffalo in national parks and privately owned rangeland such as Bear Country U.S.A.

A buffalo’s habitat varies. They live primarily on plains, prairies, river valleys and sometimes forests. Free ranging buffalo occur only in national parks and reserves such as Yellowstone and Custer. While we often call these animals buffalo, their proper name is bison. True buffalo only live in Africa and Asia.

The American buffalo is the largest terrestrial animal in North America. Bulls can weigh up to 2000 pounds, but are very good swimmers in spite of their weight. A buffalo will eat anywhere from 2% to 3% of their body weight “A DAY!!!” This means for every 1,000 pounds, 20 to 30 pounds of food is needed. Bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds so if you do the math, that is over 60 pounds of food per animal per day.

During breeding season, the bulls will fight for cow harems. They stand 20 feet apart and charge colliding foreheads with no apparent injury. This continues until one gives up. Bulls have little time to eat during the breeding season and can lose up to 200 pounds. Gestation is anywhere between eight to nine months. Calves are born in late spring and are light tan or Carmel color. After a few days of birth, the calf can keep up with the herd and follows it’s mother until the next spring. As they grow older, they develop heavier and darker hair and the characteristic hump. Buffalo are closely related to cattle and have been successfully crossbred with their domestic cousins to produce a “beefalo.”

Canadian Lynx


Lynx on wall

Canadian Lynx

SIZE

HEIGHT: 2-3 ft.
LENGTH: 32-36 in.
Tail Length: 4 in.
WEIGHT: 25-40 lbs.

BREEDING

MATURITY: Females: 21 months
Males: 33 months
MATING: Breed between Jan. and Feb.
GESTATION: 68-72 days.
YOUNG: 1-4, usually 2.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Primarily nocturnal and solitary.
DIET: Snow Hares, fish, toads, deer, and even grasshoppers if they have to.
LIFESPAN: 15-18 years.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Family “Felidae”. Classified as “Lynx canadensis”.
Related to the Spanish lynx, bobcat, and Eurasian lynx.

GENERAL INFORMATION

The Canadian Lynx is found in the forests of northern United States and Canada. They are found mostly in forested areas, swamps, and in the tundra in Northern Canada.

They are stout-bodied animals with thick, soft fur and short, stubby tails. They also have a tuft of hair, more than 2 cm long, at the tip of each ear. Their backs are dark Grey and their belly is grayish-white, often with black spots. They have long legs and extremely large feet that enable it to travel easily over deep snow. They are very agile climbers, spending some of their time in good weather on the limbs of trees, waiting for the weaker mammals and terrestrial birds that constitute their prey to pass beneath them.

It is common for Canadian Lynx to stalk their prey. They generally hunt alone, although group hunting and ambushing has been observed. They feed mostly on Snowshoe Hares. They will also eat small birds, rodents, deer, and caribou. Although not a timid hunter, the lynx will rarely contest its prey if confronted by other carnivores and will leave the kill uneaten. But when it comes to protecting their young, nothing holds them back.

They den in hollow logs, caves, beneath roots and other sheltered places. The Lynx’s range is about 50 miles, but their breeding range is considerably smaller (5 miles). They breed in the months of January and February and the gestation period is about two months. Litters can be anywhere from one to four kittens, but usually the mother will give birth to two kittens. By the fall, the youngsters will be well on their way to fending for themselves. Kittens may take meat at one month, but are not weaned until five months old. When winter comes they have still not got their adult teeth or fully developed their claws so that, although they will be accompanying their mother on hunting expeditions for some time, they are not yet able to survive alone. They stay with their mother until the next mating season, when they are usually chased away by suitors. Siblings often stay together for a time after separating from their mother.

These cats have a function of predation to perform to keep the wild animals and birds in proper numbers. Where they have been eliminated by over-shooting and trapping, an over abundance of animals such as rabbits and grouse have occurred. Their only refuge is in the deep woods and sometimes not even that can save them from the site of the human’s gun.

Coyote


coyote

Coyote

SIZE

HEIGHT: 12-20 in.
LENGTH: Head and body (32-37 in.)
Tail Length: 10-13 in.
WEIGHT: 20-50 lbs.

BREEDING

MATURITY: Females breed at one year.
MATING: Mates Jan.-Feb. Will cross with the domestic dog.
GESTATION: 60-63 days.
YOUNG: 5-10 pups.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Chiefly nocturnal, but has been spotted roaming in the daytime.
DIET: Will eat almost any animal or vegetable. Mostly small rodents
and rabbits.
LIFESPAN: 18 years in captivity.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Classified as “Canis latrans”.
Similar species: The Red Wolf, The Grey Wolf, and The Fox.

GENERAL INFORMATION

In the wild, the coyote lives in the open plains of the west and brushy areas of the East.

This opportunistic eater has adapted to man and his farmland. The coyote is very unpopular with farmers who think of him as a livestock eater. However, coyotes mainly eat rodents, rabbits and small animals. They will only hunt large animals, such as a deer, in groups of two or more.

The coyote is the best runner of the canids (dog family: wolves, dogs) reaching speeds of 25 to 30 mph, even 40 mph over short distances, and leaping up to 14 feet in a single bound.

The coyote is the symbol of the American west with his night howls, barks and wails.

Elk


Elk

Elk

SIZE

HEIGHT: To shoulder (5-6 ft.)
LENGTH: N/A
WEIGHT: Males (Bull) 700 to 1000 lbs.
Females (Cow) 500-600 lbs.

BREEDING

MATURITY: Female: 2.5 years
MATING: Starts in Sept. A bull will round up harems (a group of females) to breed.
GESTATION: 8 1/2 months.
YOUNG: Normally 1, rarely twins.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Most active in the mornings and evenings. Usually seen in groups of 25 and up.
DIET: Feeds on grasses, twigs, bark, and herbs.
LIFESPAN: Lives 14 years in wild. 25 in captivity.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Also called “Wapiti”. Classified as “Cervus elaphus” Similar species: Moose, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, and Woodland Caribou Reindeer).

GENERAL INFORMATION

The elk are also called “Wapiti”, which is the Cree Indian word for “white” referring the color of the animal’s rump.

In the wild, elk live chiefly in high, open mountain pastures in summer, and in lower wooded slopes or dense woods during the winter.

They are named just like cattle: cow, bull, calf. We handle and manage then like cattle. In the summer, the cows and calves live together while the bulls form “bachelor” herds. In the fall, breeding season the bulls fight, sometimes to the death, for a harem. The bull elk will stand on its rear legs and strike out with his sharp, cloven hooves. Not only are the bulls strong, they are very fast, running up to 35 mph, and, unlike deer, they can move through the forest almost silently. The calves are born with white spots for camouflage just like a deer fawn.

Each March the bulls shed their rack of antlers. The rack will drop off completely and the next one is already starting to grow. The new antlers, which grow almost an inch a day, are filled with blood vessels and can weigh up to 35 pounds. The antlers have a velvet-like covering, which is why we call this process “in the velvet.” They will reach their full length in mid-summer when the blood vessels inside dry up and the much-lighter antler becomes calcified like a bone. Preparing himself for breeding season, the bull runs the velvet off on tree limbs and sharpens the tines.

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear

SIZE

HEIGHT: Average of 7 ft.
LENGTH: N/A
WEIGHT: Varies from 325-850 lb.

BREEDING

MATURITY: Males 4 years, Females 3 years
MATING: May-July
GESTATION: 6 months
YOUNG: Usually 2 cubs, occasionally 3, rarely 4

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Solitary, but sometimes seen with family.
DIET: Wide Variety of fruits, berries, bulbs, tubers, and nuts; also insects and grubs, honey, fish, rodents, and lizards.
LIFESPAN: In wild, 15-34 years. Maximum of 47 years in captivity.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: The grizzly is a subspecies of the European and Asian brown bear. There are five other closely related species, including the black and polar bears.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Grizzlies are found in Canada, Alaska, and reserves in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington. The largest United States population is in Yellowstone National Park.

The grizzly is the most aggressive of all the bears. The grizzly has no enemies or predators. The grizzly rarely fights and when he does, it usually is the victor. Grizzlies forage for food in the spring and summer. They are omnivorous, which means that they eat both vegetable and animal matter. Its diet includes fruits, berries, nuts, roots, fish, rodents, and occasionally other animals. It can spot food up to 18 miles away with its keen sense of smell. On the rare occasion that the grizzly kills an animal, the kill can feed a sow (female) and her cubs for up to a week. The grizzly is a great fisherman. It stands in the river and can scoop a salmon out of the water with its enormous paw. Another method the grizzly uses is the “wait and pounce” method. In this, the grizzly waits for a fish to swim by and then, jumps into the water smashing the fish to the bottom of the riverbed.

Male grizzlies attract their mates by making low snorts and fondling the females back and neck with their paw. Mating occurs in June, but the fertilized egg does not enter the womb until fall. This gives the sow time to build up an adequate food supply for her growing cubs within her. Gestations take 180 to 250 days. The cubs are born blind, toothless, and almost hairless. They are unbelievably small: 8 inches long and weight between one and two pounds. The cubs will remain in the den until the spring when it is warm enough to come out. In early summer, the mother will take their cubs out to teach them the ways of survival. The sow teaches them how to hunt for food and to protect himself or herself. All the cubs stay with their mother for about a year and then, the cubs will ease into independence.

Grizzlies hibernate in much of the same way as other bears. During the summer and fall, they stock up body fat for the long winter sleep. They usually dig their dens in the fall. They are not “totally” asleep during the winter. If it is a nice, warm day, they will come to the ground in search of food.

Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion

SIZE

HEIGHT: To shoulder: 24-28 inches
LENGTH: Head to body: 42-54 in.
Tail Length: 30-36 in.
WEIGHT: 80-230 lb.

BREEDING

MATURITY: Males 3 years, Female 2 years
MATING: Year-round. Females usually breed once every two years.
GESTATION: 90-96 days
YOUNG: Called a litter: 2-6 cubs

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Solitary and nocturnal, but are active by day in unpopulated areas. Rugged mountains and swamps.
DIET: Generally hunt from dawn to dusk. Most wild animals, mainly deer.
LIFESPAN: Up to 18 years

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Belongs to the family “Felidae”. It is classified as “Felis concolor” Similar species: Jaguarundi Cat and Jaguar.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Mountain lions are found in very diverse habitats. They can be found in places from northern Canada to the southern tip of South America. Some other common names for the mountain lion are cougar and puma.

The Mountain lion is a very agile animal. It can easily cover 23 ft. in a single leap. They are known for their speed and quickness. One wouldn’t think that such a large animal could be quick, but they are.

Mountain lions are carnivores (meat eaters) and generally hunt in daylight where there are no humans. The mountain lion stalks its prey and when it attempts to flee, it pounces on the back of an animal with a powerful leap that knocks it to the ground. Once the lion has its prey on the ground, the prey can be killed with a single bite to the back of the neck. Mountain lions have huge hunting territories, and they eat all kinds of different animals. Deer is their principal source food, but they have been known to feed on rancher’s cattle. They can run very fast over short distances, but they tire quickly. Therefore, the cat must capture its prey on the first attack. If the prey is able to avoid the initial attack, it usually escapes. Mountain lions rarely share hunting territories and usually avoid each other. On the off chance two meet, they will make no attempt to defend their own territories or take over those of others.

The territories of male mountain lions may overlap those of females, so the males can detect when females are ready to mate. During a 14-day period of mating, a male and female hunt together and sleep next to each other. The female later gives birth in a carefully hidden den, located between rocks or in a cave. Blind at birth, the cubs have spotted coats until they are six months old. They begin to take meat provided by their mother at six weeks. Although they can hunt for themselves after nine months, they usually remain with their mother for two years. The cubs then leave her and wonder off to establish a territory of their own.

Many folk tales repeat the savagery of cougars, their numerous attacks on man and their bloodcurdling screams, but authentic, unprovoked attacks on man are far less numerous than those of the domesticated bull. Unless cornered, the cougar avoids contact with man, but at bay he is an adversary that should command respect and caution.

These cats spend most of their time on the ground, but they are adept at climbing trees and often do so when pursued by dogs. Their chief range preferences are rocky, precipitous canyons, escarpments, rim rocks or, in the absence of these, dense brush. Heavily timbered areas usually are avoided. Looking for scrapes, the signpost of the male, which consist of small piles of leaves, grasses and so forth, which he scrapes together and on which he urinates, can usually detect the presence of a cougar in an area. These are best looked for on their travel routes along the ridges and rim rocks.

Contrary to popular opinion, cougars seldom use caves as dens. An area under an overhanging ledge, a crevice in a cliff, a dry cavity in a jumbled pile of rocks, an enlarged badger burrow, a cavity under the roots of a tree or a dense thicket seem to be more desirable.

Their food is almost entirely animal matter, but. as with domestic cats, grasses may be eaten occasionally. The chief item of diet is deer Analyses of stomachs revealed that in the Southwest the mule deer accounted for 54 percent of the total food (by frequency of occurrence); white-tailed deer, 28 percent; porcupines, 5.8 percent; cottontails, 3.9 percent; jackrabbits, 2 percent; domestic cows, 1.6 percent; miscellaneous (including sheep, goats, skunks, foxes, coyotes, beavers, prairie dogs and grasses), 4.7 percent – In certain areas they are known to kill and feed upon horses, particularly colts. In general, the cougar’s food habits are of neutral or beneficial character. The high percentage of predation on deer probably is beneficial from a game management view in most instances because the cougar tends to prevent overpopulation of deer, which is the bane of the game manager in many areas where this cat has been exterminated.

Cougars are thought to be monogamous, at least for the mating period. The female is said to initiate the courtship and mating act. There appear to be no regular periods of reproduction. A female containing four large embryos was killed in April; another with three young nearly ready to be born was killed on January 20. Also, records are available for October and December. The gestation period is about 3 months. The number of young ranges from two to five, averaging three. At birth, the kittens are woolly, spotted, have short tails and weigh about 1 pound each. They develop teeth when about a month old, are weaned when about 2 or 3 months old and may remain with their mother until more than 1 year old. Adult females usually breed every other year.

Porcupine


porcupine

Porcupine

SIZE

HEIGHT: 12”
LENGTH: 23.62 to 35.43 in
WEIGHT: 11 to 30.8 lbs

BREEDING

MATURITY: Female: 2 yrs
Male: 2 ½ yrs
MATING: October – November
GESTATION: 210 days
YOUNG: 1 baby is born (with all of its quills)

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Nocturnal, feeding happens primarily at night.
DIET: Tree bark, raspberry stems, grasses, flowering herbs, and a large amount of apples.
LIFESPAN: 18 years

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Family: Erethizontidae
Scientific Name: Erethizon dorsatum

GENERAL INFORMATION

Porcupines possess a very unique defense system. A porcupine’s first line of defense is escaping from danger by climbing up a tree. However, if such an escape is not possible, the porcupine has many options. Porcupines are the only mammal in North America to use quills to deter predators. Around 30,000 quills are present on the dorsal side of a porcupine. Because loosing quills is very expensive to a porcupine, these animals have developed several warning signs to precede their use of their ultimate weapon. If visual and accoustic warnings fail, a porcupine will erect its quills, and simultaneously release a nasty scent. Quills are only used if the threat has not been deterred by these other means. (Roze, 1989; Roze, 2002; Sweitzer and Berger, 1992)

Porcupines use a combination of acoustic, chemical, visual, and tactile communication.

Raccoon


raccoon

Raccoon

SIZE

HEIGHT: 9-12 in. at the shoulder
LENGTH: 2-3 feet
Tail Length: 6-12 in.
WEIGHT: 15-35 lb.

BREEDING

MATURITY: Female: 1 year
Male: 2 years
MATING: Mates in February.
GESTATION: 50-65 days
YOUNG: Called a litter: 4-5 kits born in late spring.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Raccoons range from North, Central, and South America.
DIET: Omnivores (eat meat and vegetation) and eat frogs, small fish, crayfish, insects, corn, berries, and grapes.
LIFESPAN: 8-10 years in the wild, and 10-13 years in captivity.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Common Name: Raccoon
Classified as “Procyon lotor”.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Raccoons range from North, Central, and South America.

Raccoons inhabit forested areas with mature and/or hollow trees in which to nest. They have adapted to live in urban and rural areas.

Raccoons vary in color from blond to dark gray with the characteristic rings around eyes and tail. They have small, articulate paws used to pick up food, dig, or aid in climbing.

Fun Facts: Their species name “lotor” means “washer” in Latin. Raccoons are very vocal have been heard to purr and growl at each other. A raccoon is a curious animal and it uses its paws and nose to explore new surroundings.

Red Fox


fox

Red Fox

SIZE

HEIGHT: Head and Body: 22-25 in.
LENGTH: Tail Length: 14-16 in.
WEIGHT: 10-15 lb.

BREEDING

MATURITY: N/A
MATING: Breed in Dec. and Jan.
GESTATION: About 51 days
YOUNG: 4-9 pups in a litter.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Mostly active at night, early morning, and late evening.
DIET: Insects, hares, mice, berries, and other fruits.
LIFESPAN: 3 years in the wild. 10-15 years in captivity.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Classified as “Vulpes vulpes” Similar species: Coyote, Swift Fox, Kit Fox, Gray Fox, Arctic Fox

GENERAL INFORMATION

Red foxes utilize a wide range of habitats including forest, tundra, prairie, desert, mountains, farmlands, and urban areas. They prefer mixed vegetation communities, such as edge habitats and mixed scrub and woodland. They are found from sea level to 4500 meters elevation. (MacDonald and Reynolds, 2005)

Coloration of red foxes ranges from pale yellowish red to deep reddish brown on the upper parts and white, ashy or slaty on the underside. The lower part of the legs is usually black and the tail usually has a white or black tip.

Red foxes use a variety of vocalizations to communicate among themselves. They also use facial expressions and scent marking extensively. Red foxes have excellent senses of vision, smell, and touch. (MacDonald and Reynolds, 2005)

Works cited: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Vulpes_vulpes.html

Reindeer


reindeer

Reindeer

SIZE

HEIGHT: To shoulder (3.5 ft.).
LENGTH: Shoulder to rump: 3.5 ft.
WEIGHT: Female: 175 lbs
Male: 211 lbs

BREEDING

MATURITY: Female: year one
MATING: Calving takes place from April through May.
May reproduce til 10 years old.
GESTATION: Seven months
YOUNG: One or two

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Usually travel in herds.
DIET: Lichen, grass, birch and willow leaves, mushrooms.
LIFESPAN: 10-15 years

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Other common name “Greenland Caribou”. Similar species is the Muskox. Genus: “Rangifer” Species: “tarandus”

GENERAL INFORMATION

Wild reindeer are found in Scandinavia and northern Russia. Both male and female reindeer have antlers. New antlers are fully grown by July, but do not harden until fall. These are the only members of the deer family (Cervidae) whose females grow antlers. The antlers are covered with “velvet”, vascularized tissue, in summer. The males drop their antlers in winter, while pregnant females usually retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. Their coats are very think which provides them with excellent insulation. Their hooves are very broad which enable them to travel efficiently through snow and swamp. Their hooves also make a clicking sound when they walk. When people hear the sound, they often think that the reindeer has an injured ankle. But this is normal. Their diet is mosses, lichens, and other tundra plants.

Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) are semi-domesticated caribou. Although similar, there are fundamental differences in the behavior of reindeer and their wild cousins, caribou. They tend to be smaller than caribou, with shorter legs, and are a lighter color. It is believed they have been domesticated in Eurasia for at least 7000 years, which is longer than the horse (Edwards, 1994) In Eurasia reindeer are classified as either domesticated or wild, while in North America they are called reindeer if they are of the Eurasian domesticated variety, or caribou if they are of the wild variety. This domesticated factor makes them different from caribou in that they need to be tended on the range to keep them safe from predators, and may need to be driven to a better grazing area if theirs becomes sparse.

Reindeer eat lichen in winter and spring, and grass, birch and willow leaves, mushrooms. They will always try to go to where the new greens are, which may be contrary to the direction the herder wants the herd to go. During the summer, herds move to breezy places, either near the shore or high up so they may avoid flies. Insects are very bothersome to the reindeer, making them very unruly and difficult for the herder to keep track of or round up. Near fall, the herd begins to move inland, toward more sheltered areas. They winter in open forest and on slopes, where the wind may blow the snow off the forage.

River Otter


River_Otter

River Otter

SIZE

HEIGHT: 8 inches tall when standing on all four feet.
LENGTH: 35-51 inches long.
WEIGHT: 10-25 lbs

BREEDING

MATURITY: 2-3 years
MATING: River otters are induced ovulators, meaning that ovulation does not begin until copulation has occurred
GESTATION: 60-65 days.
YOUNG: 2-3 pups.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: River Otters reside in lakes and waterways.
DIET: River Otters are piscivores, which means they are carnivorous but primarily eat fish.
LIFESPAN: 9-10 years in the wild. 10-20 years in captivity

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Classified as Lontra Canadensis. Similar species include the badger, fisher, marten, weasel and wolverine.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Otters can dive down to depths of 10 feet and can hold their breath up to 40 seconds under water. By using a combination of running and gliding otters have been clocked at speeds of 15-18 mph on ground, and can swim 6-7 mph.

works cited:

Reed-Smith, Janice. North American River Otter Husbandray Notebook, 2nd Edition. John Ball Zoological Garden. 2001

Dewey, T. and E. Ellis. 2003. “Lontra canadensis” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 16, 2007 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lontra_canadensis.html.

Rocky Mt. Goat


Mtn_Goat

Rocky Mt. Goat

SIZE

HEIGHT: 3-3.5 ft.
LENGTH: 4-5 ft.
WEIGHT: 100-300 lb.

BREEDING

MATURITY: 2.5 years.
MATING: Oct.-Dec.
GESTATION: 7 to 8 months.
YOUNG: 1-2 kids.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Primarily diurnal. Usually seen in groups of 10 and fewer.
DIET: Feeds on high elevation vegetation and grasses and shrubs.
LIFESPAN: 12 years in the wild.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Classified as “Oreamnos americanus”
Similar species: Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and White Sheep.

GENERAL INFORMATION

This blunt, square looking animal has a narrow head with slender, black, shiny horns rising in a backward curve to a length of 10-12 inches. The coat is white and on the chin is a double beard of long hair. This animal is sure-footed and agile due to its hooves with cushioned skid-proof pads for grip. The mountain goat lives in rocky mountainous areas above the timberline throughout parts of North America. British Columbia’s population is by far the largest at approximately 100,000.

This animal feeds on alpine grasses and flowers to almost any tree and shrub. The rutting season occurs between November and early January and the young (often twins) is born in May or June. The greatest cause of death for these mountain dwellers is accidents and in the winter when the availability of food is decreased, they are more susceptible to disease, parasites, predators and accidents.

Striped Skunk


skunk

Striped Skunk

SIZE

HEIGHT: To shoulder 8-10 inches
LENGTH: Head and body, 22.64 to 31.5 in
WEIGHT: 2-4 lbs

BREEDING

MATURITY: 10 months
MATING: February and March
GESTATION: 77 Days
YOUNG: Called a litter: 5-6 young.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Family oriented; packs of 7-10. Striped skunks are nocturnal, sleeping during the day in underground burrows and emerging around dusk to search for food.
DIET: They often eat vegetation, insects and other small invertebrates, and smaller vertebrates such as snakes, birds and rodents.
LIFESPAN: Up to 90% of skunks die in their first winter. In the wild skunks may live to be 2 to 3 years old. In captivity they have been known to survive for up to 15 years

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Classified as ” Mephitis mephitis” the striped skunk is in the family mephitidae. The family Mephitidae includes the skunks and stink badgers.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Skunks use scent marking to communicate presence and reproductive state to other skunks. They also communicate visually, by raising their fur and changing posture. Skunks have a good sense of hearing, but their vision is poor. They are mostly silent, but do make a variety of sounds such as churring, hisses, and screams.

A skunk has perhaps the most widely known defense system of any mammal, the scent-spraying mechanism. Striped skunks usually do not discharge the foul smelling contents of their scent glands unless mortally threatened. When faced with danger they arch the back and erect the tail and hair. When mortally threatened they bend into a U-shape with both head and rump facing the enemy. They then emit two streams of fluid from scent glands located just inside the anus, which meet after travelling about a foot, finally spreading into a fine spray that can travel up to 2 or 3 meters. The spray often causes nausea and burns the eyes and nasal cavities of the unfortunate target. Because of their offensive odor, skunks are rarely preyed on by mammalian predators.

Works cited: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Mephitis_mephitis.html

Timber Wolf


timberwolf

Timber Wolf

SIZE

HEIGHT: 26 – 33 inches.
LENGTH: 6.5 ft. (including tail)
WEIGHT: Can weigh up to 175 lb.

BREEDING

MATURITY: Two years old.
MATING: January through March
GESTATION: 9 weeks.
YOUNG: One to eleven pups.

LIFESTYLE

HABIT: Most active at night, but may be seen during the day. Hunt in packs.
DIET: Small animals and birds. When in packs, will hunt sheep and other large animals.
LIFESPAN: N/A

SCIENTIFIC NAME

FAMILY: Other common name: “Gray Wolf”. Family: “Canidae”. Species classification: “Canus lupis”. Related to the jackal, coyote, and domestic dog.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Timber wolves are widely distributed. They are found in various parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. In the United States, they range from the Rocky Mountain ranges to areas in the Great Lakes states. Timbers can be found of prairies and forests, but usually not in high mountain ranges because of the lack of food. Their color ranges from nearly white to nearly black, but are usually grayish.

The “pack” is a very complex and strict organization. They communicate through posture, voice, and scent. The alpha, or dominant, male is the leader. Only the alpha male and alpha female are allowed to breed. The entire pack cooperates in feeding, protecting, and training the pups. The pack distinguishes its territory by marking it with urine and feces. Dominant males can stare down other wolves in the pack to prevent a fight and dominate females do the same to prevent females from mating with her mate, but fights are very rare. Some members may stay with the pack for life.

Wolves are big game hunters. After a howling chorus, the pack will leave the den for the evening hunt with one adult guardian staying behind to watch over the young. Timber wolves will generally hunt is packs of 12 or more during the non-breeding season. They feed on anything that is available. They primarily hunt birds and mammals such as deer and caribou. Their hunting range can be up to 60 miles is diameter. Wolves can run up to 40 miles an hour and can easily cover 50 miles a day. By smell alone, wolves can locate prey, other pack members or enemies. It can tell them if other wolves were in the territory, if they were male or female, and how recently they visited.

In the spring, females have litters of one to eleven pups. The pups are born blind and deaf, so they have to depend on the their mother and other members of the pack. The whole pack takes care and raises the pups (non-breeding females produce milk and males compete to baby sit). The pups also eat regurgitated food. When the hunters return from a hunt, the pups will jump and bite at their throats to get them to regurgitate the undigested meat from the recent kill. The pups normally stay with the parents until the following winter, but may remain much longer. Parents and their young constitute a basic pack.

Under the Endangered Species Act, the gray wolf is listed as a threatened species in Minnesota and as an endangered species in the United States. The decreasing numbers of wolves are the result of encroachments on their territory by humans, who have regarded wolves as competitors for prey and as dangerous to livestock, pets, and people. However, very few wolves attack humans. There might be “some” isolated incidents, but which is usually the case in those, the wolf was only trying to protect itself from the invasion from the human. There have been some efforts to try to reintroduce the wolf back into the wild, but those efforts have been very controversial.