Large mammals such as deer and bear will travel through the monument in search of food and shelter. Living in an area with an arid climate and limited resources, these animals must roam long distances in order to find the means to survive. The monument, though it provides no permanent water source, serves as one of the many places mammals will seek for browsing, scavenging, and hunting.
Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) live in forested and brushy areas. Their name is a result of their large ears, designed to help hear approaching predators, like mountain lion. The average adult stands about 3 1/2 feet tall. Females will weigh 70-160 pounds, with males weighing 110-475 pounds. Mule deer have reddish coats in the summer that turn blue-grey in the winter. Only the bucks have antlers, which are shed every year.
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), also known as the American antelope, may be occasional visitors to the monument. Pronghorn inhabit grasslands and prairies and are named for their horns with a single flat, forward-curving prong. Both sexes are horned, although the females' horns are much smaller in size. Pronghorn are approximately 4 feet long and weigh 110 to 130 pounds. A pronghorn uses its speed for defense and can run up to 84 miles per hour.
Elk (Cervus canadensis) are an extremely large species of deer and one of the largest mammals inhabiting North America. Elk are primarily found in forest and forest-edge habitat feeding on grasses, leaves, and bark. Elk may reach up to 8-10 feet long and weigh 600-1000 pounds. As true for many species of deer, elk migrate in the spring and fall which accounts for their occasional appearance at Capulin Volcano.
The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is the smallest and most common species of bear in North America. Black bears are primarily found in wooded areas where their skill in climbing trees provides safety and food sources, like acorns. Black bears will occasionally venture away from the forest in search of food, especially in the late summer and early fall when they will spend up to 20 hours per day searching in order to build a thick layer of fat for winter hibernation. Adult bears may grow up to 5 feet and weigh 200-500 pounds. Black bears are not always black and may vary in color from black, to brown, to cinnamon, to even blonde.
Scat and tracks belonging to coyote, fox, and bobcat are routinely found on hiking trails within the park. Other less noticeable mammals are present within the park, though evidence of their habitation is not as obvious. Trees have been stripped of bark by porcupines. Mice and gopher leave piles of dirt behind as they burrow. Pine cones chewed and stripped of seeds reveal the meals of rock squirrels and least chipmunks.
Last updated: February 3, 2017