PICTURES AND PROFILES OF THE WILDLIFE AT BENCH CREEK RANCH
Mountain lions are adapted to a wide variety of habitats and environmental conditions found in Nevada. They prefer dense cover or rocky, rugged terrain, but also occur in desert areas. In Nevada, lion habitat is commonly associated with Pinion Pine, Juniper, and Mountain Mahogany. Two of the most important components of lion habitat are a source of meat and cover for hunting. Mountain lions often prey on sick or weak animals, and by doing so, remove diseased animals and weaker genes from the breeding population.
From the low desert valleys to the alpine ridges, coyotes are found in about any type of habitat where they can find food and a place to hide. They seem to show some preference for brush covered rolling hills and flats. Coyotes have perhaps the most varied habitat of any animal in Nevada.
Desert Bighorn Sheep
Typical desert bighorn terrain is rough, rocky and steep, broken up by canyons and washes. Desert bighorns live in regions of the state marked by hot summers and little annual precipitation. Bighorn sheep require access to freestanding water during summer months, and in drought conditions they may water throughout the year. Desert bighorns are herbivores with a diet that varies with the habitat and seasons, but they prefer to eat grasses, forbs, when available, and shrubs.
Mule Deer move between various zones from the forest edges at higher elevations to the desert floor, depending on the season. Generally, they summer at higher elevations and winter at lower elevations, following the snow line. Mule deer occupy almost all types of habitat within their range, yet they seem to prefer arid, open areas and rocky hillsides. Areas with bitterbrush and sagebrush provide common habitat. Mature bucks tend to prefer rocky ridges for bedding grounds, while the doe and fawn is more likely to bed down in the open.
The chukar is a resident of dry, open, and often hilly country. It nests in a scantily lined ground scrape laying 8 to 20 eggs. Chukars will eat a wide variety of seeds and some insects; however, cheat grass is this species’ strong food preference. This species is relatively unaffected by hunting or loss of habitat due to its remote and physically demanding terrain preferences. Its numbers from year to year are most largely affected by weather patterns during the breeding season.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing the nation’s public lands. The wild horses and burros on the public range lands are managed consistent with BLM’s multiple use mission who takes into consideration natural resources such as wildlife and vegetation and other users such as livestock and recreationists.
Pronghorn are the fastest running hoofed animal in North America. Adults have been clocked at 55 miles per hour and may reach 60 miles per hour for short spurts. Pronghorn have a disproportionately large heart and lungs, with very efficient circulatory and respiratory systems. Their eyes are located far back on the sides of their head to allow a field of view of nearly 360 degrees. These adaptations allow them to detect approaching predators and escape by running at high speed for extended periods of time.
Bobcats of Nevada tend to select areas that offer protection from severe weather, have large prey abundance, are free from human disturbance, and provide coverage such as vegetation and rocks. These cats choose rocky areas near the mouths of canyons and fissures. Bobcats in the desert valley select broken rocky ledges about 30 meters above the desert floor since these holes offer rest, shade, and refuge for young.
Pound for pound, badgers are probably the toughest animal in Nevada. They are the miners of the animal kingdom. they can’t run very fast so, in a few seconds, they dig a burrow, and then quickly face the enemy with sharp claws and teeth. In sandy soil, they will dig so fast they simply disappear.
Found in foothills, plains and mountain slopes where sagebrush is present, or in mixture of sagebrush, meadows, and aspen in close proximity. This sagebrush obligate species eats the brush and uses it for nesting under as well as general shelter and cover. They build their concealed nests in depressions on the ground under sagebrush. Sage grouse feed on sagebrush during winter, and during other times of the year they also feed on leaves, blossoms, and buds of associated plants. They also eat insects like ants and grasshoppers.