Our preserve cameras provide information on trail use that aids in planning new facilities. They also help us understand how wildlife are affected by the presence of trails. Here’s what the cameras have captured lately.
Mother Mountain Lion and Baby
Like other babies, this lion cub didn't hold still for the camera. Mountain lions are a fixture in the Santa Cruz Mountains foothills and claim Rancho Cañada del Oro as part of their range. Deer, the staple of the mountain lion diet, are plentiful and creeks provide a source of water. Human-mountain lion encounters are rare. If you do see a lion while visiting the preserve, please call 408-224-7476 to report the sighting or file a trail report online.
Bald Peaks Trail
Bobcats are considerably smaller than the other wild feline found at Rancho, the mountain lion, and they have stubby tails. Crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) and elusive, bobcats are excellent hunters, preying on rabbits, birds, squirrels and sometimes even larger animals. Males have territories that may cover 25 to 30 square miles. Females have smaller ranges that never overlap with other female bobcats.
Wild domesticated hogs and Eurasian boars introduced centuries ago make up this nuisance population. Feral pigs root up vegetation and create wallows out of springs and ponds. This can lead to the degradation of water quality and may impact other species. They are the most prolific large wild mammal in North America. Sows can have 2 litters a year and breed in any season. A favorite food of feral pigs is acorns.
Wild turkeys from the southwestern U.S were first introduced to California in 1877 as game birds. In the mid- and late-1900s California Fish & Game increased the state’s turkey populations by capturing and relocating established birds. Turkeys feed primarily on vegetation. They prefer a mixed habitat of trees and grassland. This provides a variety of edible plants as well as trees for cover and roosting.
A sub-species of mule deer, black-tailed deer are adapted to many different habitats. They feed on a variety of plants, often browsing the buds, shoots, leaves and berries of trees and shrubs. Males have antlers they shed each winter after the mating season. Females bear their young in the spring, often having twins or even triplets. Fawns usually stay with their mother through their first year.
Mountain Lion Family
Bald Peaks Trail
Mountain lions– also known as cougars, pumas and catamounts – are nocturnal animals. They are recognizable by their size: Males can weigh as much as 150 pounds and be 8 feet long, including a long, graceful tail. Except while a female is rearing young, cougars are solitary, living and hunting alone. A primary food source is deer. Male lions may cover a hunting range of up to 100 square miles in search of prey.
The gray fox is an omnivore. It eats grains, fruits, birds, small mammals, insects, human food, garbage and carrion. Its preferred habitats are woody, brushy and rocky with a creek in the vicinity. Foxes establish their dens in rock outcroppings, hollow logs, brush piles and similar sites. Most active from sunset to sunrise, foxes are generally shy and elusive. They are the only canine known to climb trees.
Mayfair Ranch Trail
Cattle play an important role in grassland management at Rancho Cañada del Oro. Their grazing can interrupt the life cycle of invasive plants before they go to seed. This gives native grasses a chance to spread. When the desired amount of plant cover is consumed, the cows are moved to avoid over-grazing. Cows are curious but shy and are, so far, unable to open gates by themselves.