Colorado Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals
Step 1: Choose One of the Life Zones or Choices Below
CO Life Zone Menu Bar
Colorado Life Zones General information Interactive Life Zone Diagram Colorado Life Zones Maps Semidesert Shrublands Life Zone West CO Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zones Foothills Woodlands and Shrublands Montane Forests Life Zone Subalpine Life Zone Alpine Life Zone Riparian Life Zones
Montane Forests Life Zone: Seasons, Plants, & Animals
Step 2: Choose a Topic from the Montane Forests Life Zone & Scroll Down

Montane Forests Life Zone General Information

General Information

Montane Forests Life Zone Through the Seasons

Through the Seasons

Montane Forests Life Zone Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain Pine Beetle

Montane Forests Life Zone Awesome Adaptations Awesome Adaptations

Montane Forests Life Zone Plants and Trees

Plants and Trees

Montane Forests Life Zone  Mammals

Mammals

Montane Forests Life Zone Birds

Birds

Montane Forests Life Zone Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles & Amphibians

Mammals of the Montane Forests Life Zone

    Mammals in the montane have adapted to the seasons in different ways. Many animals migrate down to lower elevations in the winter (mule deer & elk).  Others grow thick, warm fur (canada lynx). Some even change colors from white in the winter to brown in the summer to blend in (snowshoe hare). Still others build a den or shelter from the weather and hibernate (american black bear & colorado chipmunk).  Abert's squirrels and pine squirrels store many pine cones and seeds to eat throughout the winter. All animals must put on a lot of weight and fat in the summer to survive the cold snowy winter.

Bobcat

Nature Works


CO Div of Wildlife

Hogle Zoo

Animal Files

Bear Country USA

Bobcat

Canada Lynx

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Bear Country USA

Animal Files

Canada Lynx

Pine or American Marten

CO Div of Wildlife

Utah Div of Wildlife

CSU NDIS

Animal Files

Pine or American Marten

Red Fox

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Bear Country USA

Animal Files

Red Fox

Coyote

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Animal Files

Bear Country USA

Southwest Wildlife

Coyote

Mountain Lion or Cougar

CO Div of Wildlife

Bear Country USA

Animal Files

Southwest Wildlife

Mountain Lion or Cougar

American Black Bear

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Bear Country USA

Animal Files

American Black Bears

Gray or Timber Wolf ??

CO Div of Wildlife

Hogle Zoo

Defenders of Wildlife

San Diego Zoo

Gray or Timber Wolf

Long-tailed Weasel

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Animal Files

Long-tailed Weasel

Porcupine

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Bear Country USA

Southwest Wildlife

Porcupine

Snowshoe Hare

CO Div of Wildlife

Utah Div of Wildlife

National Geographic

MBG net

Snowshoe Hare

Mountain or Nuttall's Cottontail Rabbit

CO Div of Wildlife

Utah Div of Wildlife

Animal Files

Mountain or Nuttall's Cottontail Rabbit

Mexican Woodrat or Packrat

CO Div of Wildlife

Utah Div of Wildlife

CSU NDIS

Mexican Woodrat or Packrat

Pocket Gophers

CO Div of Wildlife

CSU NDIS

Utah Div of Wildlife

Pocket Gopher

Colorado Chipmunk

Least Chipmunk

Utah Div of Wildlife

CO Div of Wildlife

Colorado Chipmunk

Shrews

CO Div of Wildlife

CSU NDIS

Utah Div of Wildlife

Masked Shrew

Abert's Squirrel

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Utah Div of Wildlife

Abert's Squirrel

Mice

Voles/Meadow Mice

Jumping Mice

White-footed Mice

CSU NDIS

Vole or Meadow Mouse

Pine or Red Squirrel, or Chickaree

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Utah Div of Wildlife

Pine or Red Squirrel, or Chickaree

Rock Squirrel

Utah Div of Wildlife

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Utah Div of Wildlife

CO Div of Wildlife

Rock Squirrel

Yellow-bellied Marmot

CO Div of Wildlife

Utah Div of Wildlife

Animal Files

Yellow-bellied Marmot

Long-eared Myotis

Utah Div of Wildlife

& Other Bats

CSU NDIS

CO Div of Wildlife

Long-eared Myotis

Mule Deer

Animal Files

CO Div of Wildlife

Utah Div of Wildlife

Mule Deer

Elk or Wapiti

CO Div of Wildlife

Bear Country USA

Elk or Wapiti

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Nature Works

CO Div of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife

Bear Country USA

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

 

 

 
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Awesome Adaptations: Gray or Timber Wolf

    There are few animals that stir up more emotion from humans than the wolf. Its haunting howl reminds us what is truly wild. Wolves are social animals that hunt and live in packs. They can communicate and cooperate with each other to bring down much larger animals. They seem to have a collective intelligence. Wolves are fast, strong, smart, territorial, and can travel long distances in a short period of time. Wolves do not make good pets. Wolves have a strong wild protective pack attitude and instinctive hunting aggressiveness. Also, they can get larger than a german sheppard. Their large size, strength, speed, pack mentality, instinctive hunting aggressiveness, and haunting howl have made them feared, hated, admired, and loved.

    In the late 1800's and early 1900's, most of the wolves in the Rocky Mountains and western part of the United states were killed. Settlers viewed them with fear. The settler feared for the safety of themselves and safety of their horses, milk cows, pigs, goats, and other animals they depended on. Cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers had to watch their livestock carefully. The cattle and sheep were easy prey and a pack of wolves could kill lots of livestock in a short period of time. So the wolves were soon nearly wiped out from most of the continental United States. However, a few packs of wolves remained in Yellowstone National Park, and the unsettled parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. For many decades, there had been no wolves in Colorado. However, things may be changing and Colorado may see its first packs of wolves living in the state in many decades.

    For as much as they are feared and hated, wolves play a very important part of the environment and food web. In the early part of the 1900's, most of the wolves had been killed in Yellowstone National Park. Large herds of elk, deer, and bison would roam freely across the park. Since the elk, deer, and bison had few to no enemies, their populations became huge. Soon, they did not have enough food to feed all of them and were eating most every edible plant in sight. They would eat the small aspen and willow trees before they would grow up for beavers to create marshlands that many other animals depended on for survival. With no beaver ponds or plants to hold the dirt in place with their roots, erosion and water quality had become a huge problem. They had to feed the elk, deer, and bison hay bales in the winter so there was not massive die offs over the harsh winters.

   However, in recent decades park managers have let the wolves come back in Yellowstone National Park and Wyoming. Wolf popualtions have grown quicker than many people thought was possible. The deer, elk, and bison population started decreasing to healthy numbers and the habitats or life zones became more balanced. There no longer is enough room to hold all the wolves in the Yellowstone National Park area.

    The wolf population is doing so well that they are going to other parts of Wyoming and parts of the northwestern United States. In fact, wolves have been seen in the northern part of Colorado for the first time in many decades. Wolves will help make habitats healthier and more balanced. But they also bring conflicts with ranchers, shrinking wild areas, and the historical fear by people. Wolves are truly WILD animals and that is why we fear them and love them so much.

Sources of information and to find more information: CO Div of Wildlife, Hogle Zoo, Defenders of Wildlife, San Diego Zoo. Animal Files

Gray or Timber Wolf Wolves
Wolf Pack of Wolves