Special Places

Mokelumne Wilderness Critters

Photo of a Yellow Bellied Marmot on a rock.

The Mokelumne Wilderness Area's elevation differences, land forms, soils, and diverse plant life provide habitat for over 80 species of wildlife for all or part of the year. Habitat components consist of food, water, and cover. The combination of quantity and quality of habitat provides places for feeding, hiding, resting, sleeping, breeding, and rearing of young during different seasons of the year. One of the main goals of the Wilderness Act is to protect and restore natural habitats.

Mammals - Historically grizzly bears, wolves, and bighorn sheep roamed this area. Today, mule deer are the most common large mammal found within the wilderness. Black bears are increasingly common, with individuals being displaced from the lower elevation western slopes into the higher country. Mountain Lions are known to inhabit the area. More common, yet seldom seen, are the smaller mammals like coyote, porcupine, badger and bobcat. Species of special interest that are very rare in the area are the fisher, pine marten, red fox, and wolverine. Please report sightings of these animals to the Forest Service to help us learn more about their distribution and abundance.

Rodents and Birds - The Mokelumne also provides an ideal habitat for numerous alpine rodents such as the yellow-bellied marmot, golden-mantled ground squirrel, Douglas squirrel, and pika. There are also a variety of mountain birds like the Stellar's jay, Clark's nutcracker, mountain chickadee, blue grouse, mountain bluebird, American dipper, redtail hawk, peregrine falcon, the occasional golden eagle and bald eagle, and many others.

Reptiles and Amphibians - Rattlesnakes are common in the Mokelumne Canyon at all elevations up to about 7,500-ft. Other common reptiles include mountain king snakes, fence lizards, and alligator lizards. Mountain yellow - legged frogs, pacific tree frogs, California newts, and tiger salamanders are representative amphibians.

Fish - Within the Mokelumne's abundant streams and lakes are also a variety of game fish such as the rainbow and brook trout. Less common, but also present, are brown and golden trout. California Department of Fish and Game licenses and regulations for fishing and hunting apply in the Mokelumne.