The largest mammals found here at Upper Newport Bay are the bobcat, the coyote and the raccoon. The most numerous are the various common species of small rodents.
One female bobcat called Babe has become quite a celebrity. She and/or her offspring are seen regularly on the patio of the Interpretive Center. Bobcats play an important role in our ecosystems, particularly in terms of keeping pest populations under control. While generally not considered a threat to humans; they are powerful animals and, when cornered, can be dangerous. As with all wildlife, never approach or corner a bobcat. Upon encountering one on the trail or other setting, give them a wide berth and a way to exit.
Coyotes are found in all areas of Orange County. They are a native species and a critical component of the ecosystem. While far from domesticated, coyotes show little fear of humans and have become comfortable living in close proximity to our communities. Although they tend to do most of their hunting after dusk, the so-called ‘prairie wolf” can be active at any time. Under normal circumstance, a coyote is not a danger to humans. They are, however, territorial and will respond aggressively if they or their family are threatened. It is also worth noting that it is hard for a coyote to pass up a free meal or, as the case may be, a defenseless pet.
The raccoon, though considered cute by many, is becoming a major problem at Upper Newport Bay. An abundance of food (in some cases offered by humans) and a lack of enemies has led to a thriving population that preys on the eggs and chicks of endangered and threatened birds.
Mammals of Upper Newport Bay (1989 List)
|Virginia opossum||Didelphis virginiana|
|Desert shrew||Notosorex crawfordi|
|Broad-footed mole||Scapanus latimanus|
|Longtail weasel||Mustela frenata|
|Western spotted skunk||Spilogale gracilis|
|Striped skunk||Mephitis mephitis|
|California ground squirrel||Spermophilus beecheyi|
|Deer mouse||Peromfscus manioulatus|
|Western harvest mouse||Reithrodontomys megalotis.|
|House mouse||Mus musculus|
|California vole||Microtus californicus|
|Norway rat||Rattus norvegicus|
|Botta’s pocket gopher||Thomomys bottae|
|Desert cottontail||Sylvilagus audubonii.|