Mammals

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"All good things are wild and free."

Henry David Thoreau
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Alpine Chipmunk

Ansel Adams Wilderness, California 2011
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Alpine chipmunks live only at high elevations in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. They are found in rocky areas such as rock-bordered alpine meadows, talus slopes, and rockslides, with such other mammals as pikas, ermine, yellow-bellied marmots, and bighorn sheep. Seeds, small alpine plants, and sedges make up most of the chipmunk's diet, but they also eat fruits, berries, fungi, forbs, and grasses. They are active until mid-October and then hibernate until June.

Also known as:
Mountain Chipmunk
Length:
Average: 174 mm males; 177 mm females
Range: 166-184 mm males; 169-181 mm females
Weight:
Range: 27.5-45.5 g

http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=396
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Artic Ground Squirrel

Hatcher Pass, Talkeenta Mountains, Alaska USA 2012
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Arctic ground squirrels are the largest and most northern of the North American ground squirrels. This species is common in the ice-free mountainous regions of Denali. Permafrost and soil type are two of the most important factors limiting ground squirrel distribution in Denali.

Arctic ground squirrels are burrowing animals and they establish colonies in areas with well-drained soils and views of the surrounding landscape. Colonies often consist of multiple burrows and a maze of tunnels beneath the surface. Well-drained soils are important, as flooding of these burrows causes considerable problems for squirrels. Accordingly, squirrels usually avoid establishing colonies or excavating burrows where permafrost is close to the surface.

Adapting to the Arctic

Like many other arctic animals, arctic ground squirrels have unique physiological adaptations that allow them to survive during winter. Arctic ground squirrels are obligate hibernators and spend 7 to 8 months in hibernation. Researchers at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks have shown that during hibernation, arctic ground squirrels adopt the lowest body temperature ever measured in a mammal. The body temperature of hibernating squirrels drops below freezing, a condition referred to as supercooling. At intervals of two to three weeks, still in a state of sleep, hibernating squirrels shiver and shake for 12 to 15 hours to create heat that warms them back to a normal body temperature of about 98 degrees Fahrenheit. When the shivering and shaking stops, body temperature drops back to the minimal temperature. This type of hibernation is rare among mammals and scientists are still studying this unique physiological behavior.

In Denali, ground squirrels are active from late April to early October, but the sexes and age-classes show some differences in their annual activity patterns. Adult males are usually the first to emerge from hibernation. They dig their way through the snow and stay relatively close to their burrows until the snow cover melts. Breeding occurs in May and a single litter of 5 to 10 pups is born in June. The young develop rapidly and usually emerge from their burrows in mid-July. By late summer, young abandon their natal burrow and occupy a neighboring, empty burrow or excavate a new one.

Adults start hibernating as soon as they have enough body fat to survive the winter, often in late August when plenty of foods are still available. It is probably safer to enter hibernation early, even when foods are accessible, than to remain on the surface vulnerable to predators. Youngsters, however, take much longer to find foods and put on body fat and they are often active until late September. This means that youngsters are more vulnerable to predation than adults.

Diet and Social Behavior

The diet of arctic ground squirrels is diverse and opportunistic. They eat many types of vegetation including the leaves, seeds, fruits, stems, flowers, and roots of many species of grasses, forbs, and woody plants. They also eat mushrooms and meat from freshly killed animals (including ground squirrels). Because they are active only during the short subarctic summer, arctic ground squirrels must be efficient foragers. As summer progresses, they put on a tremendous amount of fat stores for the winter and often double their body weight by the time they enter hibernation in fall.

The social behavior of arctic ground squirrels is complex. This species is highly territorial and squirrels may kill other squirrels over territorial disputes. However, other related females in the colony often care for orphaned youngsters. Further, territorial behavior lessens during late summer, and male squirrels may move between colonies or establish colonies of their own.

So many different predators eat arctic ground squirrels that Adolph Murie called them the "staff of life" in Denali. They are one of the most important summer food sources for golden eagles, gyrfalcons, foxes, and grizzly bears.

http://www.nps.gov/dena/naturescience/arcticgroundsquirrel.htm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Arctic_Ground_Squirrel
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AWCC Caribou

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Girdwood, Alaska
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Caribou, also called reindeer, are found in northern regions of North America, Europe, Asia, and Greenland.

As summer approaches, caribou herds head north in one of the world's great large-animal migrations. They may travel more than 600 miles (965 kilometers) along well trod annual routes. At the end of their journey, they spend the summer feeding on the abundant grasses and plants of the tundra. In these rich grounds, an adult caribou can eat 12 pounds (5 kilograms) of food each day.

During migration, herds of cows (female caribou) leave several weeks before the males, who follow with yearling calves from the previous birthing season.

Caribou have large hooves that are useful tools for life in the harsh northlands. They are big enough to support the animal's bulk on snow and to paddle it efficiently through the water. The hoof's underside is hollowed out like a scoop and used for digging through the snow in search of food. Its sharp edges give the animal good purchase on rocks or ice.

Caribou are the only deer in which male and females both have antlers—though only some females have them. Cows have one calf each year, which can stand after only a few minutes and move on with its mother by the next day.

When the first snows fall each year, the caribou turn south and complete a migration that sees them travel as many as 1,600 miles (2,574 kilometers) each year. They spend the winter in more sheltered climes and survive by feeding on lichens.

Caribou are traditionally vital to indigenous northern people throughout much of their range.

Fast Facts
Type: Mammal
Diet: Herbivore
Average life span in the wild: 15 years
Size: 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m) at the shoulder
Weight: 240 to 700 lbs (109 to 318 kg)
Group name: Herd
Protection status: Endangered

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/caribou/
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AWCC Grizzlies

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Hugo

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Joe Boxer

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Patron

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Girdwood, Alaska USA 2013
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Hugo is a female grizzly from Hugo Mountain near Kotzebue, AK. Two men riding snow machines found her in November 2000 with hundreds of porcupine quills imbedded in her paws. She was severely dehydrated and malnourished and was unable to walk or eat when brought to AWCC. Although she has made a good recovery, she cannot be released into the wild because she does not have the needed skills to survive on her own. Hugo was the first bear to be given a permanent home at AWCC. Photo courtesy of Gary Lackie.

Brown Bears: Joe Boxer & Patron:

In the town of Willow, a brown bear sow killed a moose calf in a resident’s backyard. The man was afraid that the bear might try to attack his dog, so he killed the sow not knowing that she had cubs. In Alaska, killing a bear in defense of life or property is legal. Once he saw the two cubs at the top of a very tall and skinny birch tree, he called the area wildlife biologist to notify him of the situation.

Daring Rescue Saves Cubs’ Lives!! The biologist, who happens to be a former gymnast, daringly climbed to the top of the skinny tree and grabbed the smaller male cub by a rear leg, holding on to the tree with the other hand. He climbed down and lowered the cub into a fish net. The second cub was more of a challenge. She was a large female cub and acted aggressively. The biologist climbed to the top of the tree, injected her with a sedative then grabbed her by the scruff. As he began to climb down, the skinny birch tree began to bend and crack. The tree bent all the way over, delivering the biologist and the cub safely to the ground!

http://www.alaskawildlife.org/animals/bears/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_bear
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AWCC Musk Oxen

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Grazing

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Charlie (latest addition)

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Girdwood, Alaska USA 2013
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Musk-oxen live in the frozen Arctic and roam the tundra in search of the roots, mosses, and lichens that sustain them. In winter, they use their hooves to dig through snow to graze on these plants. During the summer, they supplement their diet with Arctic flowers and grasses, often feeding near water. These animals have inhabited the Arctic for many thousands of years, and their long shaggy hair is well adapted to the frigid climate. The outer hairs, called guard hairs, cover a second, shorter undercoat that provides additional insulation in winter. This undercoat falls out when temperatures climb at winter's end.

Female musk-oxen carry their calves during an eight-month pregnancy, but after birth there is little time to waste. The infants are able to keep up with their mothers and the rest of the herd within a few hours. Musk-oxen are herd animals, and groups of two or three dozen animals are sometimes led by a single female. Herds use cooperation to deal with predation by wolves or dogs. When threatened, they "circle the wagons" and array themselves with their young in the middle and their sharp horns facing outward toward their foes. A cornered musk-ox can be a fearsome enemy, charging with its massive bulk and attempting to use its horns to deadly effect. Such defenses are not terribly effective against human hunters, who killed great numbers of musk-oxen for their hides and meat. Today, legislation protects herds in Alaska, Norway, and Siberia, where the animals live on preserves.

Fast Facts
Type: Mammal
Diet: Herbivore
Average life span in the wild: 12 to 20 years
Size: Height at shoulder, 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m)
Weight: 500 to 800 lbs (227 to 363 kg)
Group name: Herd

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/musk-ox/

AWCC Roosevelt Elk

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Male Roosevelt Elk

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Sub-Adult Roosevelt Elk

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Male Roosevelt Elk Bugling

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Girdwood, Alaska USA 2013
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AWCC maintains a herd of elk for Watchable Wildlife. Elk in Alaska are found on Afognak and Raspberry Islands off of Kodiak Island. Like the plains bison, many of the elk at AWCC were once ranch animals. The dominant male with the largest set of antlers is Homer, and the second largest is Danny Junior. Iggy is a female that was orphaned in 1994 and became habituated to people. Look for newborn calves in June.

Some of the elk at AWCC originate from the Yukon Territory and were shipped here for care. A female elk will abandon her calf if it is born too late in the season because it will not be able to survive a cold northern winter. Our large bull, Danny Junior, has helped produce a healthy herd of strong, stable animals.

http://www.alaskawildlife.org/animals/elk/
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AWCC Wood Bison

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Girdwood, Alaska USA 2013
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The Wood bison is the northern cousin of the Plains bison that roams many states down-below. It is bigger than the Plains bison and a large, mature bull will often weigh 2,250 pounds versus the 1,900 pounds of the smaller Plains. A mature cow will weigh about 1,000 pounds. Calves are born in May to July and are a reddish color for a few weeks. They begin to grow horns and develop a bison’s “hump” at about two months. The highest point of the wood bison is well ahead of its front legs, while the plains bison's highest point is directly above the front legs. Wood bison also have larger horn cores, a darker and woollier pelage, and less hair on their forelegs and beard.

Wood Bison Reintroduction Program

After more than 100 years of extinction in Alaska, wood bison have found their way back to the state of Alaska. The first of the AWCC Wood Bison herd arrived in November 2003 from the Yukon Territory in Canada and is part of a wood bison recovery program designed to reintroduce the species to Alaska. AWCC is home to the only wood bison herd in the United States. Wood bison hold the distinction as the largest land animal in North America. The first wood bison calves born in the state of Alaska in over 100 years were born at AWCC in 2005. In 2006, 7 calves were born and we have had 10 new-born calves this year (look for small orange “lumps” in the exhibit near the bushes).

http://www.alaskawildlife.org/animals/wood-bison/
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Belding's Ground Squirrel

Ansel Adams Wilderness, California 2011
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Belding’s Ground Squirrels spend almost three-quarters of their lives hibernating in large underground colonies, so they have only three months a year to forage, grow, and reproduce. Females come into estrus on a single day for a few hours, which heightens male competition for mating. The males engage in brutal, wound-inflicting, and even lethal combat. This, and the fact that males leave the territory where they were born and establish their own territories, results in a 3-4 year average life span for males; females average 4-6 years. Belding’s Ground Squirrels require succulent vegetation, are never far from water, and are common in alpine meadows and along cultivated fields and roadsides. They are known for their trill and whistle alarm calls, usually given by adult females. These calls alert nearby squirrels to the presence of a predator, but also alert the predator to the location of the caller, so alarm calls put the caller at risk while lessening the risk for other ground squirrels in the vicinity. Scientists call this an altruistic behavior.

Also known as:
Oregon Ground Squirrel
Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are slightly larger than females.
Length:
Average: 300 mm males; 290 mm females
Range: 270-315 mm males; 265-295 mm females
Weight:
Average: 360 g males; 300 g females
Range: 300-450 g males; 230-400 g females


http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=354
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Big Horn Sheep

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Male Yellowstone 2007

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Mother with Fawn 2007

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Female Yellowstone 2011

Yellowstone National Park, Blacktail Deer Plateau 2007 & Soda Butte 2011
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They live in two worlds. For feeding they prefer the open meadows that support grasses and sedges, but for safety they are at home on steep slopes, rocky outcroppings and ledges. We saw them mainly in the Northern portion of the park between Gardiner and Black Deer Plateau. When they are high on a steep cliff you can really see how well they camouflage themselves against the dusty beige rocks and dirt.

Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis) is a species of sheep in North America and Siberia with large horns which can weigh up to 30 lb (14 kg). Recent genetic testing indicates that there are three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: Ovis canadensis sierrae.

The Bighorn Sheep originally crossed over the Bering land bridge from Siberia: the population in North America peaked in the millions, and the Bighorn Sheep entered into the mythology of Native Americans. However, the population crashed by 1900 down to several thousand. Conservation efforts (in part, due to the Boy Scouts) have restored the population.

Bighorn Sheep are named for the large, curved horns borne by the males, or rams. Females, or ewes, also have horns, but they are short with only a slight curvature. They range in colour from light brown to grayish or dark, chocolate brown, with a white rump and lining on the back of all four legs. Rocky Mountains bighorn females weigh up to 200 lb (90 kg), and males occasionally exceed 500 lb (230 kg). In contrast, Sierra Nevada bighorn females weigh about 140 lb (60 kg) with males weighing around 200 lb (90 kg). Males' horns can weigh up to 30 lb (14 kg), as much as the rest of the bones in the male's body.

Bighorn sheep graze on grasses and browse shrubs, particularly in fall and winter, and seek minerals at natural salt licks. Bighorns are well adapted to climbing steep terrain where they seek cover from predators such as coyotes, eagles, and cougars. They live in large herds, but do not have the strict dominance hierarchy of the mouflon: that is, they do not automatically follow a single leader ram, unlike the Asiatic ancestors of the domestic sheep.

Prior to the mating season or "rut", the rams attempt to establish a dominance hierarchy that determines access to ewes for mating. It is during the prerut period that most of the characteristic horn clashing occurs between rams, although this behavior may occur to a limited extent throughout the year. Ram's horns can frequently exhibit damage from repeated clashes. Bighorn ewes exhibit a six-month gestation. In temperate climates, the peak of the rut occurs in November with one, or rarely two, lambs being born in May. The lambs are then weaned when they reach 4-6 months.

Bighorn sheep are highly susceptible to certain diseases carried by domestic sheep such as scabies and pneumonia; additional mortality occurs as a result of accidents involving rock fall or falling off cliffs (a hazard of living in steep, rugged terrain).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bighorn_Sheep
http://www.emwh.org/resources/library/bighorn%20sheep%20research.htm
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American Plains Bison

Yellowstone National Park, Blacktail Deer Plateau, June 2007/2012
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As the largest animal in the park weighing up to 2000 lbs., the Yellowstone herd is the last genetically intact population in the USA and faces many challenges, as do other species. One of these is the ever looming threat of brucellosis, that causes domestic cattle to abort their first pregnancy after exposure. According to NPS figures, 50% of the herd is infected and poses a potential threat to cattle in nearby ranching communities. Even though there has not been a documented case of transmission, the powerful cattle industry has firmly held that they risk the loss of their 'brucellosis-free' designation if this should occur. This has morphed into a program that slaughters Bison as they roam out of the park without any testing for the disease. Imagine if your doctor looked you over, discovered some skin pigmentation irregularities and scheduled cancer treatments without any verification. Does not seem like a very sensible approach to dealing with issue. Google 'yellowstone bison' and read and see for yourself. Education and knowledge can be a powerful insight!

The American Bison (Bison bison) is a bovine mammal, also commonly known as the American buffalo. "Buffalo" is somewhat of a misnomer for this animal, as it is only distantly related to either of the two "true buffaloes", the Asian buffalo (or "water bufallo") and the African buffalo. However, "bison" is a Greek word meaning ox-like animal, while "buffalo" originated with the French fur trappers who called these massive beasts boeufs, meaning ox or bullock. So both names, "bison" and "buffalo," have a similar meaning.

The bison once inhabited the Grasslands of the United States and Asia in massive herds, ranging from the Great Slave Lake in Canada's far north to Mexico in the south, and from eastern Oregon almost to the Atlantic Ocean, taking its subspecies into account. Its two subspecies are the Plains Bison (Bison bison bison), distinguished by its smaller size and more rounded hump, and the Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae), distinguished by its larger size and taller square hump. Wood Bison are one of the largest species of cattle in the world, surpassed in size only by the massive Asian gaur and Wild Asian Water Buffalo, both of which are found mainly in India and Southeast Asia. It is also the largest extant land animal in North America.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_bison
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Black Bear

Yellowstone Park, Blacktail Deer Plateau, 2007
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Turn Again Arm, 2013
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The black bear (Ursus americanus) is the most common and widely distributed bear species in North America. However, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the few areas south of Canada where black bears coexist with the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos). From 1910 to the 1960s, park managers allowed visitors to feed black bears along park roads, although the National Park Service officially frowned on this activity. During this time, along with Old Faithful, black bears became the symbol of Yellowstone for many people, and are still what some people think of when Yellowstone bears are mentioned. Since 1960, park staff have sought to deter bears from becoming conditioned to human foods.

Quick Facts about Black Bears in Yellowstone

  • Common
  • Males weigh 210–315 pounds, females weigh 135–200 pounds
  • adults stand about 3 feet at the shoulder
  • May live 15–30 years
  • Can climb trees; adapted to life in forest and along forest edges
  • Food includes rodents, insects, elk calves, cutthroat trout, pine nuts, grasses and other vegetation
  • Mates in spring; gives birth the following winter to 1–3 cubs
  • Considered true hibernators
  • Have fair eyesight and an exceptional sense of smell

Black bears currently inhabit much of their original Canadian range, though they do not occur in the southern farmlands of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. They have been extinct in Prince Edward Island since 1937. The total Canadian black bear population is between 396,000 and 476,000,[31] based on surveys taken in the mid-1990s in seven Canadian provinces, though this estimate excludes black bear populations in New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan. All provinces indicated stable populations of black bears over the last decade.[30]

The current range of black bears in the United States is constant throughout most of the northeast (down in the Appalachian Mountains almost continuously to Virginia and West Virginia), the northern midwest, the Rocky mountain region, the west coast and Alaska. However it becomes increasingly fragmented or absent in other regions. Despite this, black bears in those areas seems to have expanded their range during the last decade, such as with recent sightings in Ohio, though these probably do not represent stable breeding populations yet. Surveys taken from 35 states in the early 1990s indicate that black bears are either stable or increasing, except in Idaho and New Mexico. The overall population of black bears in the United States has been estimated to range between 339,000 and 465,000,[32] though this excludes populations from Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, whose population sizes are unknown.[30]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_black_bear
http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/bbears.htm
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Black-Tailed Deer

Skyline Resolution Trail, California 2016
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The black-tailed deer is one of nine subspecies of the mule deer. It was first recorded by the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-06.

Black-tailed deer live in the temperate coniferous forests along the Pacific coast. These forests are characterized by cool temperatures and lots of rain, but an overall mild climate. Black-tailed deer do not therefore migrate in response to seasonal changes, unlike some of the other mule deer subspecies. Instead, black-tailed deer often spend their entire life in the same general area.

Black-tailed deer can be distinguished from mule deer by their larger tail, the back of which is completely covered with black or dark brown hairs. Mule deer have smaller tails in which only the tip is covered with black hairs. Black-tailed deer are generally smaller than mule deer.

Biological Information

Range:
Central California to British Columbia
Habitat:
Mixed habitat with forest cover
Status:
Mostly common and widespread in suitable habitats
Diet:
New plant growth in spring, woody browse at other times; acorns favored when available

http://www.nhm.org/site/explore-exhibits/permanent-exhibits/north-american-mammals/black-tailed-deer
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Bobcat

Yosemite National Park, California 2014
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Bobcats are elusive and nocturnal, so they are rarely spotted by humans. Although they are seldom seen, they roam throughout much of North America and adapt well to such diverse habitats as forests, swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas.

Bobcats, sometimes called wildcats, are roughly twice as big as the average housecat. They have long legs, large paws, and tufted ears similar to those of their larger relative, the Canada lynx. Most bobcats are brown or brownish red with a white underbelly and short, black-tipped tail. The cat is named for its tail, which appears to be cut or "bobbed."

Fierce hunters, bobcats can kill prey much bigger than themselves, but usually eat rabbits, birds, mice, squirrels, and other smaller game. The bobcat hunts by stealth, but delivers a deathblow with a leaping pounce that can cover 10 feet (3 meters).

Bobcats are solitary animals. Females choose a secluded den to raise a litter of one to six young kittens, which will remain with their mother for 9 to 12 months. During this time they will learn to hunt before setting out on their own.

In some areas, bobcats are still trapped for their soft, spotted fur. North American populations are believed to be quite large, with perhaps as many as one million cats in the United States alone.

Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: 10 to 12 years
Size: Head and body, 26 to 41 in (66 to 104 cm); tail, 4 to 7 in (10 to 18 cm)
Weight: 11 to 30 lbs (5 to 14 kg)
Did you know? The bobcat is the most abundant wildcat in the U.S. and has the greatest range of all native North American cats.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/bobcat/

Alaska Coyote

AWCC Turn Again Arm, Alaska 2011
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A good example of an Alaskan Coyote (wolf-size) is also a good study in how opportunistic these creatures really are. This 'wild' coyote actual hops the fence into the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to nab food left over by the resident grizzly bears! He was a temporary addition while recovering from injuries, but came back for the free meals.

The coyote appears often in the tales and traditions of Native Americans—usually as a very savvy and clever beast. Modern coyotes have displayed their cleverness by adapting to the changing American landscape. These members of the dog family once lived primarily in open prairies and deserts, but now roam the continent's forests and mountains. They have even colonized cities like Los Angeles, and are now found over most of North America. Coyote populations are likely at an all-time high.

These adaptable animals will eat almost anything. They hunt rabbits, rodents, fish, frogs, and even deer. They also happily dine on insects, snakes, fruit, grass, and carrion. Because they sometimes kill lambs, calves, or other livestock, as well as pets, many ranchers and farmers regard them as destructive pests.

Coyotes are formidable in the field where they enjoy keen vision and a strong sense of smell. They can run up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) an hour. In the fall and winter, they form packs for more effective hunting.

Coyotes form strong family groups. In spring, females den and give birth to litters of three to twelve pups. Both parents feed and protect their young and their territory. The pups are able to hunt on their own by the following fall.

Coyotes are smaller than wolves and are sometimes called prairie wolves or brush wolves. They communicate with a distinctive call, which at night often develops into a raucous canine chorus.

Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Average life span in the wild: Up to 14 years
Size: Head and body, 32 to 37 in (81 to 94 cm); Tail, 16 in (41 cm)
Weight: 20 to 50 lbs (9 to 23 kg)
Group name: Pack
Did you know? Coyotes are very good swimmers. In areas of the northeast United States, where coyotes have migrated since the 20th century, the animals have colonized the Elizabeth Islands of Massachusetts.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/coyote/
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Yosemite Coyote

Yosemite National Park, California 2015
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The coyote appears often in the tales and traditions of Native Americans—usually as a very savvy and clever beast. Modern coyotes have displayed their cleverness by adapting to the changing American landscape. These members of the dog family once lived primarily in open prairies and deserts, but now roam the continent's forests and mountains. They have even colonized cities like Los Angeles, and are now found over most of North America. Coyote populations are likely at an all-time high.

These adaptable animals will eat almost anything. They hunt rabbits, rodents, fish, frogs, and even deer. They also happily dine on insects, snakes, fruit, grass, and carrion. Because they sometimes kill lambs, calves, or other livestock, as well as pets, many ranchers and farmers regard them as destructive pests.

Coyotes are formidable in the field where they enjoy keen vision and a strong sense of smell. They can run up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) an hour. In the fall and winter, they form packs for more effective hunting.

Coyotes form strong family groups. In spring, females den and give birth to litters of three to twelve pups. Both parents feed and protect their young and their territory. The pups are able to hunt on their own by the following fall.

Coyotes are smaller than wolves and are sometimes called prairie wolves or brush wolves. They communicate with a distinctive call, which at night often develops into a raucous canine chorus.

Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Average life span in the wild: Up to 14 years
Size: Head and body, 32 to 37 in (81 to 94 cm); Tail, 16 in (41 cm)
Weight: 20 to 50 lbs (9 to 23 kg)
Group name: Pack
Did you know? Coyotes are very good swimmers. In areas of the northeast United States, where coyotes have migrated since the 20th century, the animals have colonized the Elizabeth Islands of Massachusetts.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/coyote/
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Elephant Seal

Ano Nuevo, California USA 2013
There are two species of elephant seals, the northern and southern. Northern elephant seals can be found in California and Baja California, though they prefer to frequent offshore islands rather than the North American mainland.

Southern elephant seals live in sub-Antarctic and Antarctic waters that feature brutally cold conditions but are rich in the fish, squid, and other marine foods these seals enjoy. Southern elephant seals breed on land but spend their winters in the frigid Antarctic waters near the Antarctic pack ice.

Southern elephants are the largest of all seals. Males can be over 20 feet (6 meters) long and weigh up to 8,800 pounds (4,000 kilograms). But these massive pinnipeds aren't called elephant seals because of their size. They take their name from their trunklike inflatable snouts.

When breeding season arrives, male elephant seals define and defend territories. They collect a harem of 40 to 50 females, which are much smaller than their enormous mates. Males battle each other for mating dominance. Some encounters end with roaring and aggressive posturing, but many others turn into violent and bloody battles.

Sea elephants, as these seals are sometimes called, give birth in late winter to a single pup and nurse it for approximately a month. While suckling their young, females do not eat—both mother and child live off the energy stored in ample reserves of her blubber. Females give birth to a single pup each year after an 11-month pregnancy.

Elephant seals migrate in search of food, spending months at sea and often diving deep to forage. They return to their rookeries in winter to breed and give birth. Though both male and female elephant seals spend time at sea, their migration routes and feeding habits differ: Males follow a more consistent route while females vary their routes in pursuit of moving prey.

Elephant seals were aggressively hunted for their oil, and their numbers were once reduced to the brink of extinction. Fortunately, populations have rebounded under legal protections.

Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: 9 years (northern); 20 to 22 years (southern)
Size: Up to 20 ft (6 m)
Weight: Up to 8,800 lbs (4,000 kg)
Group name: Colony
Did you know? Southern elephant seals can dive over 4,921 feet (1,500 meters) deep and remain submerged for up to two hours.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/elephant-seal/
elephantsealnorthern-map

Northern Range Map

elephantsealsouthern-map

Southern Range Map

gldmantlegrdsquirrel-aaw11

Golden Mantle Ground Squirrel

Ansel Adams Wilderness, California 2011
gldmantlesquirrel-range
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels are familiar residents of open woodlands, brushy forest-edge habitats, dry margins of mountain meadows, and rocky slopes. They are quick to invade sunny, disturbed areas where pioneer plants provide good food resources. Because they have a stripe on the flank, they are sometimes mistaken for chipmunks, but the stripe does not continue onto the cheek as it does in Tamias species. Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels are solitary burrow-dwellers. They eat almost anything, including fungi, a variety of plants, fruits, and seeds, insects in all life-cycle stages, nestling birds and eggs, small mammals, and carrion. They hibernate from late summer through early spring, and like other hibernating mammals, put on fat reserves beforehand.

Length:
Average: 275 mm
Range: 245-295 mm
Weight:
Range: 175-350 g

http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=350
greenseaturtle-beached-koa12

Green Sea Turtle

Kona, Hawaii USA 2012
greenseaturtle-map
The green turtle is a large, weighty sea turtle with a wide, smooth carapace, or shell. It inhabits tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world and has been observed clambering onto land to sunbathe.

It is named not for the color of its shell, which is normally brown or olive depending on its habitat, but for the greenish color of its skin. There are two types of green turtles—scientists are currently debating whether they are subspecies or separate species—including the Atlantic green turtle, normally found off the shores of Europe and North America, and the Eastern Pacific green turtle, which has been found in coastal waters from Alaska to Chile.

Weighing up to 700 pounds (317.5 kilograms) green turtles are among the largest sea turtles in the world. Their proportionally small head, which is nonretractable, extends from a heart-shaped carapace that measures up to 5 feet (1.5 meters). Males are slightly larger than females and have a longer tail. Both have flippers that resemble paddles, which make them powerful and graceful swimmers.

Unlike most sea turtles, adult green turtles are herbivorous, feeding on sea grasses and algae. Juvenile green turtles, however, will also eat invertebrates like crabs, jellyfish, and sponges.

While most sea turtles warm themselves by swimming close to the surface of shallow waters, the Eastern Pacific green turtle will take to land to bask in the sun. Occasionally seen sunbathing alongside seals and albatrosses, it is one of the few marine turtles known to leave the water other than at nesting times.

Green turtles, like other sea turtles, undertake lengthy migrations from feeding sites to nesting grounds, normally on sandy beaches. Mating occurs every two to four years and normally takes place in shallow waters close to the shore. To nest, females leave the sea and choose an area, often on the same beach used by their mothers, to lay their eggs. They dig a pit in the sand with their flippers, fill it with a clutch of 100 to 200 eggs, cover the pit and return to the sea, leaving the eggs to hatch after about two months. The most dangerous time of a green turtle’s life is when it makes the journey from nest to sea. Multiple predators, including crabs and flocks of gulls, voraciously prey on hatchlings during this short scamper.

Green turtles are listed as an endangered species, and a subpopulation in the Mediterranean is listed as critically endangered. Despite this, they are still killed for their meat and eggs. Their numbers are also reduced by boat propeller accidents, fishnet-caused drowning, and the destruction of their nesting grounds by human encroachment.

Fast Facts

Type: Reptile
Diet: Herbivore
Average life span in the wild: Over 80 years
Size: Up to 5 ft (1.5 m)
Weight: Up to 700 lbs (317.5 kg)
Group name: Bale
Protection status: Endangered
Did you know? Like other sea turtles, the green turtle cannot pull its head into its shell.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/green-turtle/
grizzly-male-ypr04

Grizzly Bears

grizzly-female-ypr04

Female Grizzly Stare

grizzly-subadult-ypr04

Sub-Adult Grizzly

Khutzeymateen Valley, British Columbia, Canada, June 2004
grizzly-range
The Khutzeymateen/K'tzim-a-Deen Grizzly Sanctuary was established as the first area in Canada to be protected specifically for grizzly bears and their habitat. It also represents the first undisturbed estuary of its size to be protected along the north coast of BC. The topography of this land and marine sanctuary is diverse, with rugged peaks towering to 2100 metres above a valley of wetlands, old growth temperate rainforests and a large estuary. An abundance of wildlife shares the area. The ultimate purpose of this area is to protect the north coast grizzly bear by preserving a part of the ecosystem in which they live. Because of this area's high sensitivity and strict conservation orientation, visitor use is not encouraged. However, a limited amount of controlled viewing is allowed under permit. The hunting of grizzly bear is prohibited and hunting of other wildlife is restricted to areas above 1000 meters elevation.

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/khutzeymateen/

Fast Facts
Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Average lifespan in the wild: 25 years
Size: 5 to 8 ft (1.5 to 2.5 m)
Weight: 800 lbs (363 kg)
Protection status: Threatened

  • The grizzly bear is a North American subspecies of the brown bear. These awe-inspiring giants tend to be solitary animals—with the exception of females and their cubs—but at times they do congregate. Dramatic gatherings of grizzly bears can be seen at prime Alaskan fishing spots when the salmon run upstream for summer spawning. In this season, dozens of bears may gather to feast on the fish, craving fats that will sustain them through the long winter ahead.
  • Brown bears dig dens for winter hibernation, often holing up in a suitable-looking hillside. Females give birth during this winter restand their offspring are often twins.
  • Grizzly bears are powerful, top-of-the-food-chain predators, yet much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots.Bears also eat other animals, from rodents to moose.
  • Grizzlies are typically brown, though their fur can appear to be white-tipped, or grizzled, lending them their traditional name. Despite their impressive size, grizzlies are quite fast and have beenclocked at 30 miles (48 kilometers) an hour. They can be dangerous to humans, particularly if surprised or if humans come between a mother and her cubs.
  • Grizzlies once lived in much of western North America and even roamed the Great Plains. European settlement gradually eliminated the bearsfrom much of this range, and today only about 1,000 grizzlies remain in the continental U.S., where they are protected by law. Many grizzlies still roam the wilds of Canada and Alaska, where hunters pursue them as big game trophies.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/grizzly-bear.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_bear
grizzly-femaleclaws-ypr05

Grizzly Bears

grizzly-cubpoke-ypr050

Grizzly Cub Head Poke

grizzly-fembackglow-ypr05

Female Grizzly Glow

Khutzeymateen Valley, British Columbia, Canada, June 2004
grizzly-range
The Khutzeymateen/K'tzim-a-Deen Grizzly Sanctuary was established as the first area in Canada to be protected specifically for grizzly bears and their habitat. It also represents the first undisturbed estuary of its size to be protected along the north coast of BC. The topography of this land and marine sanctuary is diverse, with rugged peaks towering to 2100 metres above a valley of wetlands, old growth temperate rainforests and a large estuary. An abundance of wildlife shares the area. The ultimate purpose of this area is to protect the north coast grizzly bear by preserving a part of the ecosystem in which they live. Because of this area's high sensitivity and strict conservation orientation, visitor use is not encouraged. However, a limited amount of controlled viewing is allowed under permit. The hunting of grizzly bear is prohibited and hunting of other wildlife is restricted to areas above 1000 meters elevation.

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/khutzeymateen/

Fast Facts
Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Average lifespan in the wild: 25 years
Size: 5 to 8 ft (1.5 to 2.5 m)
Weight: 800 lbs (363 kg)
Protection status: Threatened

  • The grizzly bear is a North American subspecies of the brown bear. These awe-inspiring giants tend to be solitary animals—with the exception of females and their cubs—but at times they do congregate. Dramatic gatherings of grizzly bears can be seen at prime Alaskan fishing spots when the salmon run upstream for summer spawning. In this season, dozens of bears may gather to feast on the fish, craving fats that will sustain them through the long winter ahead.
  • Brown bears dig dens for winter hibernation, often holing up in a suitable-looking hillside. Females give birth during this winter restand their offspring are often twins.
  • Grizzly bears are powerful, top-of-the-food-chain predators, yet much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots.Bears also eat other animals, from rodents to moose.
  • Grizzlies are typically brown, though their fur can appear to be white-tipped, or grizzled, lending them their traditional name. Despite their impressive size, grizzlies are quite fast and have beenclocked at 30 miles (48 kilometers) an hour. They can be dangerous to humans, particularly if surprised or if humans come between a mother and her cubs.
  • Grizzlies once lived in much of western North America and even roamed the Great Plains. European settlement gradually eliminated the bearsfrom much of this range, and today only about 1,000 grizzlies remain in the continental U.S., where they are protected by law. Many grizzlies still roam the wilds of Canada and Alaska, where hunters pursue them as big game trophies.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/grizzly-bear.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_bear
humbackwhale-ogg09

Humpback Whale

humpbackwhale-boys-ogg09

Humpback Boys Chasing Girls 2009

humpbackwhale-tail-ogg09

Humpback Tail Wave 2009

Maui, Hawaii February 2009
humpbackwhale-range
Humpback whales are known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world's oceans. These sequences of moans, howls, cries, and other noises are quite complex and often continue for hours on end. Scientists are studying these sounds to decipher their meaning. It is most likely that humpbacks sing to communicate with others and to attract potential mates.

These whales are found near coastlines, feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill, plankton, and small fish. Humpbacks migrate annually from summer feeding grounds near the poles to warmer winter breeding waters closer to the Equator. Mothers and their young swim close together, often touching one another with their flippers with what appear to be gestures of affection. Females nurse their calves for almost a year, though it takes far longer than that for a humpback whale to reach full adulthood. Calves do not stop growing until they are ten years old.

Humpbacks are powerful swimmers, and they use their massive tail fin, called a fluke, to propel themselves through the water and sometimes completely out of it. These whales, like others, regularly leap from the water, landing with a tremendous splash. Scientists aren't sure if this breaching behavior serves some purpose, such as cleaning pests from the whale's skin, or whether whales simply do it for fun.

Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 48 to 62.5 ft (14.6 to 19 m)
Weight: 40 tons (36 metric tons)
Group name; Pod
Protection status: Endangered

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/humpback-whale/?source=A-to-Z
marmot-profile-ynp10

Marmot Madness

marmot-thief-ynp00

Thief @ Emigrant Meadow Lake 2000

marmot-close-ynp08

Tioga Road Close-up 2008

marmot-footfwd-ynp10

Marmot Best Foot Forward 2010

Emigrant Wilderness, Emigrant Meadow Lake 1997 (First Image)
marmotyellowbellied-range
The Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris), also known as the Rock Chuck, is a ground squirrel in the marmot genus. It lives in the western United States and southwestern Canada, including the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. It inhabits steppes, meadows, talus fields and other open habitats, sometimes on the edge of deciduous or coniferous forests, and typically above 6,500 feet (2,000 m) of elevation. Yellow-bellied Marmots usually weigh between 5 and 11 pounds (2 and 5 kg) when fully grown. They get fatter in the fall just before hibernating. A marmot's habitat is mostly grass and rocks with few trees. Their territory is about 4 to 7 acres (2 to 3 ha) around a number of summer burrows.

Marmots choose to dig burrows under rocks because predators are less likely to see their burrow. Predators include wolves, foxes, and coyotes. When a marmot sees a predator, it whistles to warn all other marmots in the area (giving it the nickname "whistle pig"). Then it typically hides in a nearby rock pile.

Marmots reproduce when about 2 years old, and may live up to an age of 15 years. They reside in colonies; a colony is a group of about 10 to 20. Each male marmot digs a burrow soon after he wakes up from hibernation. He then starts looking for females, and by summer has 1 to 4 females living with him. Litters usually average 4-5 offspring per female. Marmots have what is called "harem-polygynous" mating system, which means the male defends 1-4 mates at the same time.

Yellow-bellied Marmots are diurnal like most mammals. The marmot is also an omnivore, eating grass, leaves, flowers, fruit, grasshoppers, and bird eggs.

Marmots are not hunted for sport but are sometimes killed by farmers.Yellow-bellied Marmots include "toilet rooms" in their burrows as well as living rooms, bedrooms and eating rooms.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow-bellied_Marmot
merriamschipmunk-rrr11

Merriams Chipmunk

Ramrod Ranch, Monterey, California 2014
merriamschipmunk-range
Merriam's chipmunk's calls are distinctive. Perched on top of a stump or rock, the chipmunks vocalize long and vigorously, and the "chip" sound is often followed by a burst of sound called a "terminal pulse." These chipmunks are usually found below the timberline, at elevations of about 2,300-2,500 m. They nest in holes in the ground, under rocks, or in logs, and occasionally in holes in trees. When they are scampering in trees they jump from branch to branch, using their fluffy tails for balance. Where their range and the range of the California chipmunk overlap, the two may interbreed.

Sexual Dimorphism: None
Length
Average: 247 mm
Range: 240-255 mm
Weight
Average: 75 g
Range: 70-80 g

http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=379
moose-bull-ysp07

Moose

Yellowstone National Park, Antelope Valley & Silver Gate 2007
moose-range
We were lucky to see both the large bull above and the female yearling scampering around close to Silver Gate, the North East entrance to the park

  • Moose (Alces alces shirasi Nelson), the largest member of the deer family, were reportedly very rare in northwest Wyoming when Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872. Subsequent protection from hunting and wolf control programs may have contributed to increased numbers but suppression of forest fires probably was the most important factor, since moose here depend on mature fir forests for winter survival.
  • Moose breed from early September to November and one to three calvesare born in May or June. Calves weigh 25 to 35 pounds at birth but grow rapidly; adult females (cows) weigh up to 800 pounds and males (bulls) up to 1300 pounds. Bulls are readily identified by their large, palmate antlers, which are shed annually, and their bells, an apparently useless dewlap of skin and hair that dangles from the throat. Moose live mostly solitary lives, and die from disease, starvation, or predation by wolves and, occasionally, by grizzly bears.
  • Surveys in the late 1980s suggested a total park population of fewer than 1000 moose.
  • Research on radio-collared moose in northern Yellowstone has shown that when snow depth forces moose from low-elevation willow stands in November, they move up to as high as 8500 feet, to winter in mature stands of subalpine fir and Douglas-fir. They browse fir almost exclusively during the deep-snow winter months. Tyers (unpubl. data) found that moose ate 39.6 percent subalpine fir, 25.5 percent willows, 10.6 percent lodgepole pine, 4.6 percent gooseberry, and 4 percent buffaloberry. Snow is not as deep under a canopy of conifer branches since some snow remains on them, and a crust that may restrict moose movements is less likely to form on shaded snow. However, Tyers found that moose could winter in areas where snow considerably deeper than that which elk could withstand.
  • The moose calf crop has been declining since the fires of 1988. During that summer there was also high predation of moose by grizzly bears in small patches of surviving timber. The winter following the fires many old moose died, probably as a combined result of the loss of good moose forage and a harsh winter. The fires forced some moose into poorer habitats, with the result that some almost doubled their home range, using deeper snow areas than previously, and sometimes browsing burned lodgepole pines. Unlike moose habitat elsewhere, northern Yellowstone does not have woody browse species that will come in quickly after a fire and extend above the snowpack to provide winter food. Therefore, the overall effects of the fires were probably detrimental to moose populations. Park managers, in cooperation with staff from the adjacent Gallatin National Forest and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks continue to seek good methods to monitor the status of moose in northern Yellowstone. Aerial surveys of willow habitats in spring have shown some promise of providing an index of moose population trends in Yellowstone, although their current population and distribution remain largely unknown.
  • Moose are commonly observed in the park's southwestern corner along the Bechler and Falls rivers, in the riparian zones around Yellowstone Lake, in the Soda Butte Creek, Pelican Creek, Lewis River, and Gallatin river drainages, and in the Willow Park area between Mammoth and Norris. Summer moose migrations from south and west of the park into Yellowstone have been confirmed by radio telemetry.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/moose.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moose
mountaingoat-gnp93

Mountain Goat

Glacier National Park, Continental Divide 1993
Both male and female mountain goats have beards, short tails, and long black horns, 15-28 cm in length, which contain yearly growth rings. They are protected from the elements by their woolly white double coats. The fine, dense wool of their undercoats is covered by an outer layer of longer, hollow hairs. In warmer seasons, mountain goats moult by rubbing against rocks and trees, with the adult billies (males) shedding their extra wool first and the pregnant nannies (females) shedding last. In the winter, their coats help them to withstand temperatures as low as -50 Fahrenheit (-46 Celsius) and winds of up to 100 mph (161 km/h)

A billy stands about one meter (3'3") at the shoulder to the waist. Male goats also have longer horns and a longer beard than nannies. Mountain goats typically weigh between 45 and 136 kg (100 - 300 lb.);[1] females are usually 10-30% lighter than males.

The mountain goat's feet are well-suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes, sometimes with pitches of 60 degrees or more, with inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can spread apart as needed. Dewclaws on the back of their feet also help to keep them from slipping.

The mountain goat inhabits the Rocky Mountains and Cascade Mountain Range regions of North America, from northern Washington, Idaho and Montana through British Columbia and Alberta, into the southern Yukon and southeastern Alaska. Its northernmost range is said to be along the northern fringe of the Chugach Mountains in south central Alaska. Transplanted populations can also be found in such areas as Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, South Dakota and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.

Mountain goats are the largest mammals found in their high-altitude habitats, which reach elevations of 4,000 meters (about 13,000 feet) or more. Although they sometimes descend to sea level in coastal areas, they are primarily an alpine and subalpine species. Throughout the year, the animals usually stay above the tree line, but they will migrate seasonally to higher or lower elevations within that range. Summertime migrations to low-elevation mineral licks often take them several or more kilometers through forested areas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_goat
mountaingoat-kidingrass-gnp93

Mountain Goat Kid in the Grass 1993

mountaingoat-range

Range Map

muledeer-trio-emw03

Mule Deer

Emigrant Wilderness, Emigrant Meadow Lake 2003
Stacks Image 7289
I was returning from a short hike to a bluff above Emigrant Meadow Lake, heard a rustling above me and these three struck a pose.

Description
The Mule Deer color ranges from dark brownish gray to pale gray to brown. It has a pale rump patch of white or yellow, and a white throat patch. The tail is white and usually has tuft of black on the end.
Size
Length: males 1.3-1.7 m; females 1.3-1.6 m
Environment
Found in wide range of habitats including desert, savanna, grassland, forest and mountains.
Food
Leaves and twigs of trees and shrubs. also eats acorns, legume seeds, and fleshy fruits, including berries
Breeding
One or two calves are born after gestation of 200 days. The young weight 2 to 5 kg at birth. Young are fully weaned at about 16 weeks.
Range
Most of western parts of North America. The eastern edge of the usual range extends from southwestern Saskatchewan through central North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and western Texas.

The most noticeable differences between white-tailed and mule deer are the size of their ears, the color of their tails, and the configuration of their antlers. In many cases, body size is also a key difference. The mule deer's tail is black-tipped, whereas the whitetail's is not. Mule deer antlers are bifurcated; they "fork" as they grow, rather than branching from a single main beam, as is the case with whitetails. Each spring, a buck's antlers start to regrow almost immediately after the old antlers are shed. Shedding typically takes place in mid-February, with variations occurring by locale. Although capable of running, mule deer are often seen stotting (also called pronking), with all four feet coming down together. Black-tailed deer have also been introduced to Kauai, Hawaii.

http://www.wildlifenorthamerica.com/Mammal/Mule-Deer/Odocoileus/hemionus.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mule_deer
pinemartin-ysp11v

Pine Martin

Yellowstone Park , Montana USA March 2011
pinemartin-range
The American marten (Martes americana) is a North American member of the family Mustelidae, sometimes referred to as the pine marten. The name " pine marten" is derived from the common but distinct Eurasian species of Martes. It differs from the fisher (Martes pennanti) in that it is smaller in size.

Description: The American marten is a long, slender-bodied weasel about the size of a mink with relatively large rounded ears, short limbs, and a bushy tail. American marten have a roughly triangular head and sharp nose. Their long, silky fur ranges in color from pale yellowish buff to tawny brown to almost black. Their head is usually lighter than the rest of their body, while the tail and legs are darker. American marten usually have a characteristic throat and chest bib ranging in color from pale straw to vivid orange.

Habitat: Lives in mature coniferous or mixed forests in Alaska and Canada, the Pacific Northwest of the United States and south into Northern New England and through the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada.

Food: American marten are opportunistic predators, influenced by local and seasonal abundance and availability of potential prey. They require about 80 kcal/day while at rest, the equivalent of about 3 voles (Microtus, Myodes, and Phenacomys spp.). Voles dominate diets throughout the American marten's geographic range, though larger prey—particularly snowshoe hares—may be important, particularly in winter.

Life Span: American marten in captivity may live for 15 years. The oldest individual documented in a wild was 14.5 years old.

Predators: vulnerable to predation from raptors and other carnivores.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
redfox-ysp11

Red Fox

Red Fox , Lamar Valley Yellowstone National Park 2011
redfox-range
Red foxes are the most widely distributed wild carnivores in the world, occurring in North America, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. They are also widespread in Australia, where they were introduced in about 1850 so that fox-hunters would have something to hunt. Their range in North America has expanded since colonial times as their competitors, wolves, were eliminated, but their range has also contracted in areas where they are in competition with coyotes. Red foxes prey on voles, rabbits, hares, and other small mammals, and also eat birds, fruits, and invertebrateseven beetles and earthworms. A malefemale pair typically inhabits a territory, and older, usually female, siblings help care for the younger offspring by bringing them food. Red foxes are among the main carriers and victims of rabies.

Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Conservation Status: Least Concern.
Sexual Dimorphism: Males can be 15%-25% heavier than females.
Length: Range: 827-1,097 mm
Weight: Range: 3-7 kg

http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=420
redsquirrel-ysp1103

Red Squirrel

Yellowstone Park , Montana USA March 2011
redsquirrel-map
Red Squirrels are very vocal. They bark at intruders, including humans, and can bark continuously for more than an hour if they are annoyed. They also chatter, especially to stake out a territory and protect their stored food supply (conifer cones, which they harvest in great numbers) from other squirrels. They are especially noisy during the breeding season, when they chase each other through tree branches making a distinctive call that sounds almost like the buzz of cicadas. They readily nest in attics and cabins, and are trapped for their fur.

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Conservation Status: Least Concern.
Also known as: Pine Squirrel, Chickaree, Barking Squirrel, Mountain Boomer, Boomer
Length: Range: 280-350 mm
Weight: Range: 140-250 g

http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=400
riverotters-ysp11c

River Otter

Yellowstone Park , Montana USA March 2011
riverotter-range
The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent, found in and along its waterways and coasts.

The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) became one of the major animals hunted and trapped for fur in North America after European contact.

Description: Stocky animal of 5 to 14 kilograms (11 to 31 lb), with short legs, a muscular neck no smaller than the head, and an elongated body that is broadest at the hips. An average adult male weighs about 11.3 kilograms (25 lb) against the female's average of 8.3 kilograms (18 lb). Its body length ranges from 66 to 107 centimetres (26 to 42 in). About one-third of the animal's total length consists of a long, tapered tail. Tail lengths range from 30 to 50 centimetres (12 to 20 in). Large male North American river otters can exceed a weight of 15 kilograms (33 lb). It differs from the European otter by its longer neck, narrower visage, the smaller space between the ears and its shorter tail.

Habitat: Although commonly called a " river otter" , the North American river otter is found in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, both freshwater and coastal marine, including lakes, rivers, inland wetlands, coastal shorelines and marshes, and estuaries. It can tolerate a great range of temperature and elevations. A river otter's main requirements are a steady food supply and easy access to a body of water. However, it is sensitive to pollution, and will disappear from tainted areas Like other otters, the North American river otter lives in a holt, or den, constructed in the burrows of other animals, or in natural hollows, such as under a log or in river banks. An entrance, which may be under water or above ground, leads to a nest chamber lined with leaves, grass, moss, bark, and hair. Den sites include burrows dug by woodchucks (Marmota monax), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), nutria (Myocastor coypus), or beavers, or beaver and muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) lodges. River otters also may use hollow trees or logs, undercut banks, rock formations, backwater sloughs, and flood debris. The use of den and resting sites is chiefly opportunistic, although locations that provide protection and seclusion are preferred.

Food: Like most predators, Otters prey upon the most readily accessible species. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians, turtles, and crayfish. Instances of river otters eating small mammals and occasionally birds have been reported, as well.

Activities: Otters are very active, chasing prey in the water or searching the beds of rivers, lakes or the seas. Most species live beside water, but river otters usually enter it only to hunt or travel, otherwise spending much of their time on land to avoid their fur becoming waterlogged. Sea otters are highly aquatic and live in the ocean for most of their lives. Otters are playful animals and appear to engage in various behaviors for sheer enjoyment. Different species vary in their social structure, with some being largely solitary, while others live in groups – in a few species these groups may be fairly large.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
rockymtnelk-buck-ysp07

Rocky Mountain Elk

rockymtnelk-malegraze-ysp11

Rocky Mountain Elk Male Grazing 2011

rockymtnelk-yearling-ysp11

Rocky Mountain Elk Yearling 2011

rockymtnelk-cow-ysp11

Rocky Mountain Elk Cow 2011

Yellowstone National Park, Obsidian Creek 2007
Blacktai Deer Plateau & Mamomth Hot Springs 2011
rocklymtnelk-range
They can be found in the western section of the park, and when in rut, roaming the streets of Mammoth Hot Springs. Elk (Cervus elaphus) are the most abundant large mammal found in Yellowstone; paleontological evidence confirms their continuous presence for at least 1,000 years. Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, when market hunting of all large grazing animals was rampant. Not until after 1886, when the U.S. Army was called in to protect the park and wildlife slaughter was brought under control, did the large animals increase in number.

Bulls grow antlers annually from the time they are nearly one year old.When mature, a bull’s "rack" may have 6 to 8 points or tines on each side and weigh more than 30 pounds. The antlers are usually shed in March or April, and begin regrowing in May, when the bony growth is nourished by blood vessels and covered by furry-looking "velvet." Antler growth ceases each year by August, when the velvet dries up and bulls begin to scrape it off by rubbing against trees, in preparation for the autumn mating season or rut. A bull may gather 20-30 cows into his harem during the mating season, often clashing or locking antlers with another mature male for the privilege of dominating the herd group. By November, mating season ends and elk generally move to their winter ranges. Calves weighing 25-40 pounds are born in late May or early June.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/elk.htm
rooseveltelk-pdx02

Roosevelt Elk

Mt St Helens National Monument, Toutle Valley 2002
rooseveltelk-range
The Roosevelt elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), also known as Olympic elk, is the largest of the four surviving subspecies of elk in North America.[2] They live in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest and were introduced to Alaska's Afognak and Raspberry Islands in 1928.[3][4] The desire to protect the elk was one of the primary forces behind the establishment of the Mount Olympus National Monument (later Olympic National Park) in 1909

Adults grow to around 6–10 ft (1.8–3 m) in length and stand 2.5–5 ft (0.75–1.5 m) tall at the shoulder.[4] Elk bulls generally weigh between 700 and 1100 lb (300–500 kg), while cows weigh 575–625 lb (260–285 kg).[2] Some mature bulls from Raspberry Island in Alaska have weighed nearly 1300 lb (600 kg).[2]

From late spring to early fall, Roosevelt elk feed on herbaceous plants, such as grasses and sedges.[4] During winter months, they feed on woody plants, including highbush cranberry, elderberry, devil's club, and newly planted seedlings (Douglas-fir and western redcedar).[4] Roosevelt elk are also known to eat blueberries, mushrooms, lichens, and salmonberries.

In the wild, Roosevelt elk rarely live beyond 12 to 15 years, but in captivity have been known to live over 25 years

Roosevelt elk are sometimes known as Olympic elk and are the largest of the big game animals. A mature bull may weigh as much as 1,000 pounds or even more, but on the average they will weigh much less. Both male and female elk have a dark-colored neck mane. Antlers of the males are heavy, and tend to rise straighter and with much less spread than antlers of the Rocky Mountain elk. The greatest difference between Roosevelt elk and Rocky Mountain elk is in their habits and distribution. Roosevelt elk choose to live in the rain forests of the Pacific coast. They prefer the logged and burned over areas of the coastal mountains and the western slope of the Cascades. Upon finding an area which meets their needs they spend their entire lives there. Huckleberry, trailing wild blackberry, vine maple, salal, and other shrubs are favorite food during the late summer, fall, and winter. Weeds and grasses are preferred in the spring and early summer. Roosevelt elk are larger in size and darker than a Rocky Mountain elk. Antlers are shorter, heavier, with a narrower spread and often "webbed" or crowned at the top. (NPS leaflet) Feeding occurs just after daylight and again in the early evening. When food becomes scarce, the elk herd must spend more time in search of it.

http://www.scsc.k12.ar.us/2001Outwest/PacificNaturalHistory/Projects/JeffersE/Default.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roosevelt_elk
rooseveltelk-fawn-pdx02

Roosevelt Elk Fawn

rooseveltelk-fawninlupine-pdx02

Roosevelt Elk Fawn Newborn in Lupine 2002

rooseveltelk-fawnclose-pdx02

Roosevelt Elk Fawn Closeup 2002

Mt St Helens National Monument, Toutle Valley 2002
rooseveltelk-range
The Roosevelt elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), also known as Olympic elk, is the largest of the four surviving subspecies of elk in North America.[2] They live in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest and were introduced to Alaska's Afognak and Raspberry Islands in 1928.[3][4] The desire to protect the elk was one of the primary forces behind the establishment of the Mount Olympus National Monument (later Olympic National Park) in 1909

Adults grow to around 6–10 ft (1.8–3 m) in length and stand 2.5–5 ft (0.75–1.5 m) tall at the shoulder.[4] Elk bulls generally weigh between 700 and 1100 lb (300–500 kg), while cows weigh 575–625 lb (260–285 kg).[2] Some mature bulls from Raspberry Island in Alaska have weighed nearly 1300 lb (600 kg).[2]

From late spring to early fall, Roosevelt elk feed on herbaceous plants, such as grasses and sedges.[4] During winter months, they feed on woody plants, including highbush cranberry, elderberry, devil's club, and newly planted seedlings (Douglas-fir and western redcedar).[4] Roosevelt elk are also known to eat blueberries, mushrooms, lichens, and salmonberries.

In the wild, Roosevelt elk rarely live beyond 12 to 15 years, but in captivity have been known to live over 25 years

Roosevelt elk are sometimes known as Olympic elk and are the largest of the big game animals. A mature bull may weigh as much as 1,000 pounds or even more, but on the average they will weigh much less. Both male and female elk have a dark-colored neck mane. Antlers of the males are heavy, and tend to rise straighter and with much less spread than antlers of the Rocky Mountain elk. The greatest difference between Roosevelt elk and Rocky Mountain elk is in their habits and distribution. Roosevelt elk choose to live in the rain forests of the Pacific coast. They prefer the logged and burned over areas of the coastal mountains and the western slope of the Cascades. Upon finding an area which meets their needs they spend their entire lives there. Huckleberry, trailing wild blackberry, vine maple, salal, and other shrubs are favorite food during the late summer, fall, and winter. Weeds and grasses are preferred in the spring and early summer. Roosevelt elk are larger in size and darker than a Rocky Mountain elk. Antlers are shorter, heavier, with a narrower spread and often "webbed" or crowned at the top. (NPS leaflet) Feeding occurs just after daylight and again in the early evening. When food becomes scarce, the elk herd must spend more time in search of it.

http://www.scsc.k12.ar.us/2001Outwest/PacificNaturalHistory/Projects/JeffersE/Default.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roosevelt_elk
seaotter-mry13

Sea Otter

Davenport Landing, Califronia USA 2013
seaotter-range
This aquatic member of the weasel family is found along the coasts of the Pacific Ocean in North America and Asia. The sea otter spends most of its time in the water but, in some locations, comes ashore to sleep or rest. Sea otters have webbed feet, water-repellent fur to keep them dry and warm, and nostrils and ears that close in the water.

Sea otters often float at the water's surface, lying on their backs in a posture of serene repose. They sleep this way, often gathered in groups. Otters sometimes float in forests of kelp, or giant seaweed, in which they entangle themselves to provide anchorage in the swirling sea.

These aquatic otters do more than sleep while floating on their backs. They are often seen with a clam or mussel and a rock that has been deftly snared from the ocean floor. Otters will place the rock on their chests, and repeatedly smash the shellfish against it until it breaks open to reveal the tasty meal inside. They also dine on such aquatic creatures as sea urchins, crabs, squid, octopuses, and fish.

Sea otters are the only otters to give birth in the water. Mothers nurture their young while floating on their backs. They hold infants on their chests to nurse them, and quickly teach them to swim and hunt.

Sea otters are meticulously clean. After eating, they wash themselves in the ocean, cleaning their coat with their teeth and paws. They have good reason to take care of their coats—it helps them to remain waterproof and insulated against the cold. Sea otters have thick underfur that traps air to form an insulating layer against the chilly waters (they have no insulating fat). This coat is invaluable to otters, but it has worth to some humans as well.

Sea otters were hunted for their fur to the point of near extinction. Early in the 20th century only 1,000 to 2,000 animals remained. Today, 100,000 to 150,000 sea otters are protected by law.

Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: Up to 23 years
Size: 4 ft (1.25 m)
Weight: 65 lbs (30 kg)
Protection status: Threatened

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/sea-otter/
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