Wildlife in North Klamath County
Experience Wildlife surrounding our Communities and in the wooded hills of the Cascade Range Mountains. From Elk to Mule Deer and Mountain Lions to Wolves. Mother Nature is as beautiful as she is wild. We ask that you please be careful when Hiking, Biking, Fishing, Hunting and Walking in North Klamath County. Especially in the wilderness areas. Be aware and conscious, you are not the only living thing where ever you are in NKC.
The mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is a deer indigenous to western North America. It is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer. However, some genetic studies have indicated that mule deer may have developed relatively recently through the interbreeding of white-tailed and black-tailed deer, which may have evolved from white-tailed deer thousands of years ago. Unlike the related white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer are generally more associated with the land west of the Missouri River, and more specifically with the Rocky Mountain region of North America. Mule deer have also been introduced to Argentina. North Klamath County has been a long time hot spot for Hunting Mule Deer.
Rocky Mountain Elk
The Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) is a subspecies of Elk found in the Rocky Mountains and adjacent ranges of Western North America. The winter ranges are most common in open forests and floodplain marshes in the lower elevations. In the summer it migrates to the sub alpine forests and alpine basins. The total wild population is about one million individuals. The Rocky Mountain elk was re-introduced in 1913 to Colorado from Wyoming after the near extinction of the regional herds. While over hunting is a significant contributing factor, the elk’s near extinction is mainly attributed to human encroachment and destruction of their natural habitats and migratory corridors. Did you know In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America? Today there are well over 1 million elk thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat.
Locally we have herds of Elk that migrate through here every year. If you are lucky enough to catch sight of them we hope you have your camera or video camera ready.
Mountain Lion (Cougar)
The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as the mountain lion, puma, panther, painter, mountain cat, or catamount, is a large cat of the family Felidae native to the Americas. Its range, from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America, is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in most American habitat types. It is the second heaviest cat in the New World, after the jaguar. Secretive and largely solitary by nature, the cougar is properly considered both nocturnal and crepuscular, although sightings during daylight hours do occur. The cougar is more closely related to smaller felines, including the domestic cat (subfamily Felinae), than to any subspecies of lion (subfamily Pantherinae).
An excellent stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range. It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but can also live in open areas. The cougar is territorial and survives at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey. While large, it is not always the apex predator in its range, yielding to the jaguar, gray wolf, American black bear, and grizzly bear. It is reclusive and mostly avoids people. Fatal attacks on humans are rare, but have been trending upward in recent years as more people enter their territory. We have even had a Mother Cougar and her 3 cubs in a tree right here in town. Very exciting, but at the same time very dangerous. If you happen to spot a Mountain lion, leave the area and call ODFW.
The wolves in Oregon today are part of the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population. They are descendants of wolves originally captured in Canada and released in Yellowstone National Park and Idaho in the mid-1990s. Historical evidence and wolf specimens show wolves from the Canadian and northern U.S. Rockies, interior British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and nearly all of Alaska are closely related. According to taxonomists, they belong to a single subspecies known as Canis lupus occidentalis and form a single population across the Rocky Mountains of the northern U.S. and southern Canada.
Wolves originating from the region described above have proven to be genetically and morphologically similar. For example, of the wolves harvested during the 2009 hunting seasons, adults from Montana weighed an average of 97 lbs with a maximum of 117 lbs, and adults from Idaho weighed an average of 101 lbs with a maximum of about 130 lbs. These weights are similar to the sizes of wolves that occurred in these states in the 1800s and early 1900s. While the sample size is very small, the weights of wolves that have returned to Oregon or been born here in the last few years are similar, with the highest weight recorded 115 lbs.
Wolves are also well-known for their ability to disperse long distances from their birth sites. Radio-tracking data shows that wolves from southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta mix both with wolves from Idaho and Montana, and with wolves from farther north near the source locations of the animals used in the Idaho and Yellowstone reintroductions.
Rare sighting. I had the pleasure (or should I say “Scary pleasure”) of seeing a Wolf at 2 am while looking out my front window. The wolf was 15 feet from my house. I was frozen in time to say the least. Wolf’s are much bigger in real life than I had ever expected. I was so in awe i couldn’t even think to grab my camera to validate the once in a lifetime opportunity. I did report it to the Wildlife department. The Wildlife folks came to my home to investigate, view and measure tracks and collect additional info. I was elated to say the least that I was able to experience what only a handful of people get to see in their lifetime.
The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent’s smallest and most widely distributed bear species. Black bears are omnivores with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. The American black bear is the world’s most common bear species.
It is listed by the IUCN as Least Concern, due to the species’ widespread distribution and a large global population estimated to be twice that of all other bear species combined. Along with the brown bear, it is one of only two of the eight modern bear species not considered globally threatened with extinction by the IUCN. American black bears often mark trees using their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other bears, a behavior common to many species of bear’s
Black Bear Sighting: A “scary pleasure” to say the least. I was fishing on Diamond Lake one beautiful summer day. I was just docking my boat after catching a limit of Rainbow Trout. After tying my boat to the dock, I looked up to the end of the dock and there he was. A Black Bear standing on his hind feet sniffing the air. In my hand was my bucket of fish I just caught and on my way to the fish cleaning station. I stopped dead in my tracks and set the bucket down. Again I felt frozen in time. The Bear was between me and my Pickup Truck. I quickly grabbed one of the fish out of the bucket, and threw it as far as I could in the opposite direction I wanted to go. Sure enough, the Bear went after the fish, and I went after my Pickup Truck and trailer. As I started my truck the Bear showed up about 15 yards in front of me. I blew my horn and revved the engine hoping the Bear would run away. Sure enough, that’s exactly what he did. He ran straight to a tree and started up the tree. He got about 6 feet up the tree jumped down and headed for another tree and did the same thing. After the third tree attempt, the Bear disappeared into the woods. So much for a peaceful day of fishing. That was my first encounter with a Black Bear here in NKC. Of course I left my camera at home, and this was before the invention of Cell Phones with cameras, so you’ll just have to take me at my word. (Note to self, don’t throw fish to a Bear, go back to the boat and go for a ride until the Bear leaves.)
Common Sense Guidelines
Activities in North Klamath County and especially in bear country, brings some additional challenges, so take extra caution.
- Manage food and refuse.
- Keep food in bear-proof containers.
- Place all garbage and fish refuse in sealed, bear-proof containers.
- Keep campsites, campfire sites clean.
- Do not bury garbage or fish refuse; bears will dig it up.
- Be safe while fishing.
- Fish, Hike or Walk with at least one other person when you can.
- Clean fish at designated cleaning stations, or, pack it out.
- Talk loudly around a stream – carry a whistle to alert bears of your presence.
- Avoid berry patches.
- Don’t throw fish to Bears. (are you nuts?)
- If you see a bear or fresh bear sign, leave the area.