Carnivores (Order Carnivora)
Coyote,Canis latrans. (Fig. 12.18) As large as a medium-sized dog, with long, bushy tail; 3–5 ft (1–1.5 m) long, including tail; adults 20–30 lb (9–14 kg); pelage nonuniform in color due to color banding of the hairs, usually appearing grayish with reddish tint, the red commonly more noticeable around the erect ears and neck. Coyotes are distributed throughout the White Mountains at all seasons. Although they are primarily predators of rodents, hares, and rabbits, their diet may include berries, grasshoppers, and carrion. Coyotes generally pose little threat to adult Mule Deer, Mountain Sheep, Pronghorn Antelope, and Tule Elk, but they can prey on the young of these species. Most Coyotes in the White Mountains occur singly or in family groups of a mother with young pups. Most hunting occurs at dawn and dusk,
but it is nevertheless common to observe Coyotes during the day. Young are born in the spring.
Gray Fox,Urocyon cinereoargenteus. (Fig. 12.19) As large as a small dog, head and body about 2 ft (60 cm), tail about 1 ft (30 cm) long; weight 9–11 lb (4–5 kg); pelage pepper and salt gray with black on tip of long, bushy tail and tips of prominent, erect, pointed ears. The Gray Fox is uncommon in the White Mountains, probably distributed mostly at middle to low elevations on both sides of the range. Its diet
includes rodents, hares, rabbits, birds, insects, and fruit, depending on availability. Young are born in spring, usually three to five in a litter.
Ringtail,Bassariscus astutus. (Fig. 12.20) Head and body length 14–17 in (36–41 cm), tail 15 in (38 cm); weight 2–2.5 lb (0.9–1.1 kg); body pelage tan, somewhat lighter beneath, with black-tipped hairs on back; dark eyes conspicuously ringed with white; light spot in front of each ear. A small, very agile relative of the raccoon, with a long, bushy, banded tail, pointed face, and prominent, erect ears, Ringtails commonly have been called the Miner's Cat (although not a cat at all) due to their propensity to take up residence in and around cabins. Ringtails occur in canyons of the White Mountains, living mostly near water. They are very nocturnal, and thus rarely seen by people. Their diet is highly varied, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, carrion, insects, spiders, and fruit. Litters are usually born in late spring.
Marten,Martes americana. About the size of a house cat, but longer and narrower, with bushy tail and sharply pointed face; head and body 14–17 in (36–43 cm), tail 7–9 in (18–23 cm); weight 1–2.5 lb (0.4–1.1 kg); pelage golden brown with yellowish patch on throat and chest. The Marten is apparently a rare inhabitant of timberline coniferous forests, probably occcuring mostly in Limber Pine on the east side of the White Mountains. An opportunistic predator that can climb trees, it preys on birds and small mammals as large as hares but also eats berries and carrion when available. The Marten commonly hunts beneath the snow in winter and is largely solitary. Young are born in spring and litter size is generally two to four.
Wolverine,Gulo luscus. A large, stocky member of the weasel family; head and body 29–32 in (74–81 cm), tail 7–9 in (18–23 cm); weight 35–60 lb (16–27 kg); shaggy, blackish brown pelage, with pale stripe from shoulder to rump on each side, joining at the base of bushy tail; pale patch from eye to ear on either side of head. The Wolverine is a rare inhabitant of the White Mountains, reported on only three
occasions in over 30 years. Its range is probably the crest and east side of the range. Wolverines are known to eat virtually any animal matter, including carrion, and will eat berries in summer. Young are born in late winter or spring, usually numbering two to four.
Badger,Taxidea taxus. (Fig. 12.21) Head and body 18–22 in (46–56 cm), tail 4–6 in (10–15 cm); weight 13–25 lb (6–11 kg); stature broad and low such that the body fur appears to drag on the ground; pelage yellowish brown to silver gray, with white stripe down middle beginning at nose and sometimes extending to base of the tail; face with upturned snout and black and white patterning. Badgers are distributed throughout the White Mountains, up to at least 12,000 ft (3,660 m). Their feet and legs are adapted for digging out burrowing animals, which are its main food (especially ground squirrels). Insects and other terrestrial animals are eaten opportunistically, but vegetative matter is virtually absent from the diet. Litters of one to five are born in spring.
Long-tailed Weasel,Mustela frenata . (Fig. 12.22) Head and body 8–10.5 in (20–27 cm), tail 4–6 in (10–15 cm); weight less than 0.75 lb (0.34 kg); pelage whitish underneath and brown above, with black on tip of tail; upper pelage usually changes to white in winter in snowy environments. A small, voracious carnivore, whose long and slender body is adapted for hunting small animals in burrows and rocks, this weasel is distributed throughout the White Mountains. Long-tailed Weasels have been recorded as high as 12,500 ft (3,810 m) but probably occur higher. Their diet
consists mostly of small mammals but may include insects, reptiles, birds, and eggs. Litters of six to nine are born in spring.
Skunks. Two skunk species inhabit the White Mountains. The Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis ) (Fig. 12.23) is about the size of a house cat, with a conspicuous bushy tail, weighing 6–14 lb (2.7–6.4 kg). It is glossy black with two conspicuous white stripes on either side of its back that meet at the neck. The Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius) (Fig. 12.24) is considerably smaller, weighing 0.8–2.5 lb (0.4–1.1 kg). Its black pelage is broken by numerous white stripes and spots, including a white tip on the tail. Striped Skunks occur up to about 7,000 ft (2,130 m) and Spotted Skunks to 10,500 ft (3,200 m) in the White Mountains. Both species consume a highly varied diet consisting of invertebrates, small vertebrates, bird eggs, and some fruit, nuts, grains, and roots. Young are generally born during May for both species, with litters of three to six for Spotted Skunks and four to eight for Striped Skunks.
Mountain Lion,Felis concolor. (Fig. 12.25) A large cat with a long tail; head and body 42–54 in (107–137 cm), tail 30–36 in (76–91 cm); adults 80–150 lb (36–68 kg); pelage tawny with white underside, black on back of ears and on tip of long, prominent (but not bushy) tail; kittens spotted with banded tail. The primary food of Mountain Lions is deer, which they hunt by stalking and ambushing. Hares
may be eaten if locally abundant, and other ungulates, such as Mountain Sheep and Tule Elk, are generally hunted only where their ranges overlap the deer range. Mountain Lions occur throughout the White Mountains where Mule Deer are present. Their dependence on concealment for hunting keeps them mostly in canyons, where vegetation and rocks meet this need. They are extremely shy of humans and hence rarely seen. They usually occur singly or as a mother with young. Young can be born any month of the year, and litter size is generally two to four.
Bobcat,Lynx rufus. (Fig. 12.26) About twice the size of a house cat with proportionately longer legs, especially rear legs, and a short tail; head and body 25–30 in (63–76 cm), tail 5 in (13 cm); weight 15–35 lb (7–16 kg); pelage yellowish to reddish brown and variously streaked and spotted; tail with dark bands toward the tip; prominent ears pointed with tufts of black hair at the tips. Like Coyotes, Bobcats feed mostly on rodents, hares, and rabbits, occasionally catching larger prey. They differ from Coyotes in their method of hunting, using only stealth to stalk and ambush, never running down prey. Consequently, like their relatives the Mountain Lions, Bobcats mostly inhabit areas where they can hide. They occur throughout the White Mountains but rarely use the high, open slopes where the visitor might hope to see one. Bobcats are generally solitary, except when a female is accompanied by kittens. Litter size is usually three to five. Young are generally born in spring and summer.