(click on any image for a larger view)
Bobcat (Lynx rufus), winter, Coastal Fire Road, Mount Tamalpais State Park
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Elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), late summer, Año Nuevo State Reserve
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), summer, in the waters off Arch Rock, Point Reyes
River otter (Lutra canadensis), spring, Grizzy Island Wildlife Area
Wild pigs, autumn, Grant County Park
Chipmunk (Tamias), summer, Bear Valley Trail, Point Reyes
Coyote (Canis latrans), winter, Alto Bowl Open Space Preserve
Tule elk (Cervus elaphus nannodes), spring, Estero Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore
Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargentus), Coyote Hills Regional Park
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Jackrabbit (Lepus), spring, Calero County Park
Mole (Scapanus), winter, Z Ranch Trail, Point Reyes
Gopher (Thomomys), spring, Miwok Trail, Marin Headlands
Rabbit, Estero Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore
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Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Old Springs Trail, Marin Headlands
Squirrel, Los Cerritos Trail, Calero County Park
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certainly will run into a fair amount of mammals out on the trails. In
large part, what you see has to do with your behavior. Hiking with others,
or with dogs, will decrease your meetings. But when you are quiet, careful,
and observant, you may be astonished at what you see. Deer, coyotes, fox,
elk, weasels, skunks, raccoons, bobcats, pigs, jackrabbits, badgers, bats, opossum,
porcupines, and mountain lions all live, mostly secretly, in the bay area.
If you are interested in learning more about the animals in our area, start by taking a look at some field guides. Here are a couple of good ones:
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals, by John O. Whitaker, Jr. (order this book from Amazon.com)
Scats and Tracks of the Pacific Coast, by James C. Halfpenny (order this book from Amazon.com).
Peterson Field Guides: Animal Tracks, by Olaus J. Murie (order this book from Amazon.com).
The primary animal signs to look for are tracks and scat. And then you need to know where to look for the animals. Coyotes frequent open grassland, but usually only below the ridge line, so if you hike on ridge tops, look downhill to see them. Deer are common, but prevalent in the morning, and about dusk. Pigs love acorns, and can be seen rooting nearby oaks. To better your chances in sightings, hike quietly and stop frequently along areas of the trail. Just listen, and look around. Sometimes animals jump right out at you, but usually they want their privacy more than they want to mess around with you.
For more information on dangers of wild animals, see my section on troubles with varmits.
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