Even-Toed Ungulates (Order Artiodactyla)
Tule Elk,Cervus elaphus. (Fig. 12.27) Large, standing well over 3 ft (1 m) at the shoulders; adult males up to about 700 lb (320 kg), females about three-quarters the weight of males; pelage light reddish brown with dark brown neck and large, cream-colored rump patch; males carry antlers that are cast and regrown each year and may become very massive with numerous branches in prime adults. Tule Elk are native only west of the crest of the Sierra Nevada in the foothills, Great Valley, and Coast Ranges. They were introduced to Owens Valley in 1933 and 1934 in an attempt to establish a large, free-roaming population. At the time, this subspecies (nannodes ) numbered fewer than 300, and most were in enclosures. The Owens Valley population now extends from Owens Lake to Laws and numbers about 500. The west slope of the White Mountains is used by Tule Elk up to about 8,000 ft (2,440 m) in the region from the Westgard Pass Road to just south of Silver Canyon. This area is used largely in winter and spring and includes calving grounds.
Mule Deer,Odocoileus hemionus. (Fig. 12.28) Shoulder height about 3 ft (91 cm); weight about 100 lb (45 kg) for females and 130 lb (59 kg) for males; gray-brown pelage with small white rump patch covered by tail; conspicuous, large ears; males carry antlers that increase in length and degree of branching with body size and are cast and regrown each year. Mule deer are widely distributed in the White Mountains. Similar to Mountain Sheep, they migrate seasonally up and down the mountain to obtain the best yearly diet, occurring as high as 14,000 ft. (4,270 m) in summer. They are long-legged and fleet and escape predators by outrunning them. Habitats used by Mule Deer include the open Desert Scrub and alpine communities, as well as the more closed Pinyon Pine, Limber Pine, Bristlecone Pine, and Mountain Mohogany belts in the middle elevations. Common to all habitats is topography that allows fleetness in escaping predators. Consequently, Mule Deer rarely are present on the steep, rocky slopes preferred by Mountain Sheep.
Pronghorn Antelope,Antilocapra americana. (Fig. 12.29) Shoulder height about 33 in (85 cm): weight about 75 lb (34 kg) for females and 110 lb (50 kg) for males; pelage rusty brown on back, with conspicuous white belly, rump patch, and neck stripes; females with very short, inconspicuous (some lacking) horns; males with black horns rarely exceeding 16 in (40 cm) with a short, forward-protruding branch in the middle and hooked tips; horn sheaths are cast and regrown each year in males, unlike
any other horned mammal in the world. Pronghorn Antelopes were once common residents of valleys surrounding the White Mountains. They probably used the lower slopes of the range in spring and migrated to high sagebrush flats in summer. An attempt beginning in 1982 to reintroduce these antelopes to Adobe Valley northwest of Benton has resulted in populations that winter at the base of the White Mountains from Hammil Valley to Queen Valley; occasionally they have been observed high in the range in summer.
Mountain Sheep,Ovis canadensis. (Fig. 12.30) Shoulder height about 36 in. (91 cm); maximum weight about 140 lb (64 kg) for females and 200 lb (91 kg) for males; gray pelage with large, conspicuous white rump patch; females with short, narrow horns that curve back and outward toward tips; adult males with massive horns that grow back and then curve forward to form an arc. Mountain (Bighorn) Sheep are usually found in rugged topography due to their need for steep rocks to escape predators. They also use less rocky terrain if visibility is good and safe rocks are within running distance. Consequently, Mountain Sheep range is usually discontinuous. Where possible, Mountain Sheep exhibit seasonal altitudinal migration in order to
feed on the greenest, most nutritious forage. In the White Mountains they range in elevation from 5,700 ft (1,740 m) to 14,000 ft (4,270 m). Their main predator in the White Mountains is the Mountain Lion, with Coyotes and Bobcats possible predators on lambs. Historically, Mountain Sheep occurred in scattered localities in the southern White Mountains, including Wyman Canyon and the Cottonwood Creek basin, and all west-side canyons from White Mountain Peak to Montgomery Peak in the northern half of the range. Loss of part of this range was probably due to diseases introduced from domestic livestock. Today, Mountain Sheep remain only in the most rugged and inaccessible portion of their original range, from White Mountain Peak to Montgomery Peak. These canyons become less steep and rocky as they approach the crest of the range. Consequently, Mountain Sheep are uneasy and very flighty when feeding high in the mountains in summer. They usually flee into the canyons at such great distances from people that few untrained observers ever see them. There is concern that increased human use north of White Mountain Peak in summer might cause serious displacement of this species from its nutritious summer range.