American Black Bears (Ursus americanus) are the smallest and most widely distributed bear in North America. They are omnivorous. Black bears are highly dexterous, this means they are capable of opening screw top jars or door latches. When this does not get them what is inside, they will use brute strength. So no coop is impenetrable. They have good eyesight as well as a great sense of smell. They are far smarter than given credit for, once they learn where your critters are, they will return. Chained dogs are no threat as they learn to get around them and where they can reach. Not sure if that was black bear you saw? The color not quite right? Well they come in a wide range of color: white, blond, cinnamon, light to dark chocolate brown. The most common being jet black. They can on occasion have a white or off colored triangle on the chest. Below is a picture of bear tracks. Bear scat can be firm looking (like horse droppings) to what resembles a cow pile. Generally, it contains what they have been eating (chicken feed or feathers). And they come with a distinct smell of nasty wet dog with a hint of garbage.
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes. An elongated body but short limbs is ended with a fluffy tail that is about 70% the length of the body. Eyes resemble cat eyes with oval pupils. They are capable of jumping over six feet high and can swim. Color of the fur can be red, silver/black and cross. The underside of the fox is cream with a white tip on the tail. Droppings resemble cat poop.
The grey fox differs from its red cousin by a grey and black cape and a black tipped tail. It is better at climbing trees than the red fox. Like most predators, it is nocturnal.
The coyote is like a smaller wolf. Fur is grayish-brown to yellowish-gray on the upper part of the body with the throat and belly a buffish color. Reddish-brown on the forelegs, sides of head, muzzle and paws. Usually they have a black dorsal stripe and a dark cross on the shoulders. The tail is tipped in black. Ears are large in proportion to the head and the feet are small. They can run up to 43 mph and jump 13 feet. They generally travel in packs or pairs but will hunt singularly. Droppings look like dogs.
The eastern wolf is smaller than the grey wolf. The coat is a greyish-brown with the back and sides cover in long, black hairs. A spot behind the ears is a slight reddish color. Skinnier than the gray wolf, more coyote-like appearance. The ears are in proportion to the head and feet are larger than the coyotes. Wolves and coyotes have been known to inter-breed.
Bobcat (Lynx rufus) - Smallest of the wild cat family native to West Virginia. It is very adaptable living in wooded areas, semidesert, urban edge, forest edge and swampland. Smallest of the lynx family but about twice the size of a domestic cat. Color ranges from tan to greyish-brown with black streaks on body and dark bars on the forelegs and tail. Ears are black-tipped and pointed with short black tufts on tips. Off-white coloring on the lips, chin and underparts. Heavy black eyeliner. Coat coloring depends on area that it lives. The tail is bobbed. They are territorial. Prey ranges in size from rabbits to smaller deer. To mark their territory, they use claw marks and urine sprays just like domestic cats. Sharp hearing and vision, good sense of smell. Excellent climber and will swim when needed. The prefer the hours of sunset to dawn. Tracks are generally in a single file, droppings look like regular cat droppings.
North American Cougar (Puma concolor cougar) - Known as puma, cougar, mountain lion, catamount and panther. Next to the jaguar, it is the largest cat species in North America. They weigh 80-225 pounds and vary in length from 5-9 feet including the tail. A tawny (brownish red-orange to light brown) color with color variants during the changing seasons. Muzzle, chin and underparts are creamy white. Black coloring on the tip of the tail, behind the ears and at the base of the whiskers. Immature cats are paler with darks spots on the flanks. Prey range is the same as the bobcat with the ability to take down the large prey of deer and livestock. Droppings are the same as all cats.
According to Fish and Game we do not have them here. The black ones are even more rare than the tawny ones. It is supposed to be a genetic mutation. It is also thought that the once native jaguar is revisiting its habits. The bottom left is a black mountain lion and the bottom right is black jaguar. Not that anyone believes us, but we did see an adult black cat as well as half grown cub. The adult appeared like the left picture and the cub like the left. Note the tail length difference.
Pets can cause just as much damage as wild animals. Whether they are strays or belong to someone, domestic animals such as dogs and cats can kill your livestock. I do not know if this is the same as all counties in West Virginia but here in Pocahontas County, you have the right to destroy an animal that is endangering you or your livestock, no questions asked.
Did you know that cats can kill full grown chickens and ducks? Packs or single dogs can kill larger livestock as well as the small critters we have. Keep this in mind of your own pets as well. If your pets roam, there is a chance they may think chasing farm animals is fun. A chased animal is a stressed animal and can die even though the dog or cat did not kill them.
Least Weasel - The smallest member of the mustelidae family. The least weasel is thin with a greatly elongated body that is very flexible. Eyes are large and bulging. Legs and tail are short. If they can find a hole, they can get in. Color of the fur is dependent to the region they are located in, in West Virginia they are usually almost a chocolate color in summer and white in winter. They are capable of taking down prey five times bigger than they are. Droppings resemble Payday bars only smaller.
Long Tailed Weasel - Also called a stoat. One of the larges members of the family. Eyes are black in daylight but glow emerald green in a spotlight. Fur is brown on top and creamish on the bottom. The tail has a black tip. In winter they are white with a black tipped tail.
The American mink is a semiaquatic mustelid. Hunting habits are like the above animals. They are larger and stouter than their above cousins. The tail is uniform in shape until the somewhat tapered tip.
The largest of the omnivorous mustelids native to West Virginia. Bodies are long and thin and low to the ground. The fur changes with the seasons from a more solid to mottled in the summer. From deep brown to black. The face to the shoulders can be hoary-gold to silver due to tricolored guard hairs. They do climb. One of the few animals that can kill a porcupine. Droppings resemble clustered deer droppings.
The North American opossum is a nocturnal opportunist. About the size of the domestic cat (but we have seen much bigger). Coats are dull grayish brown. Their faces have a white mask. The tail is long, hairless and prehensile. Hairless ears and long nose. They are omnivorous like skunks. They are nocturnal as well. Droppings look like very large rat turds.
Native to other countries and imported to other places like the Americas. Called wild boar, wild hog or razorbacks.
The body is compact, head is large, legs short. Bristle like hair with finer hair as well. Dark grey to black or brown. Size varies per the region they live in. Adult males develop tusks of continually growing teeth on the upper lower canines. They ground them together to sharpen them. Females have them as well but small and not as protruding.
When cornered or pursued, they will defend themselves. Been known to kill tigers in self defense. Sows with piglets are the worse.
Feral pigs or hogs are escaped domestic pigs/hogs. If a population of wild hog is around, they will interbreed.
All pigs/hogs are omnivorous. They will tear into anything they want to eat or look for food inside of.
Raccoon or sometimes racoon or coon. Coat it is a mix of brown, black and grey. The most memorial is the facial mask. The tail is also ringed in black and cream. Their front paws are extremely dexterous front paws. They are extremely intelligent. Nocturnal and omnivorous, they are capable of taking down a full grown chicken. You will hear people refer to some coons as river coons. These tend to some of the larger, more mud colored ones. Capable of killing dogs that they lure out into deep water and then stand on their heads. At hone on land as well as in trees or water. Coons are known for carrying rabies more than any other type of animal. Droppings depend on what it eating, from small piles to cat like.
No, we are not talking dinosaurs. We are talking about birds of prey. Some may seem too small to carry things off but think of those little chicks that are out there running around.
Contrary to most thought, skunks are not all striped. They are also not all black and white. We have seen patterns from where nothing is striped but the tail or they are an off color like grey. This little cutie is an eastern spotted skunk. They are not an off pattern like those I mentioned above but a true skunk breed. They are smaller and more slender than the traditional striped. It also has a more weasel like body. It has four stripes its back that are then broken into a pattern giving it a 'spotted' appearance. White markings are available on the cheeks and forehead, as well as the tip of the tail. Active at night preferring when it dry over wet. They love eggs but may even take chicks.
The stripped skunk is the most well known. They like the hours of dusk til dawn like the spotted skunk. Ever wake up and see these little holes dug in your yard? Chances are you had a skunk visit. Traditionally the body is black with two white strips down the body to the tip of the tail. A white strip runs down the nose and forehead. Similar to the size of a domestic cat, they are the heaviest of skunk species. Droppings of all skunks resemble a constipated cat's.