The Hudson Valley and Catskills are home to many, many different species of wildlife – some critters you’ll see all the time and others you might never see.
Common Wildlife Neighbors
Chipmunk – The alert, striped chipmunk is enjoyable to watch and makes a very loud chirping noise that to unfamiliar ears might sound like a bird. Chipmunks can be garden terrors because they are omnivores that are not all that picky about what they eat, which means they eat pretty much everything. If you have holes near rock walls, trees, and plants that are the size of a small fist, that’s a likely chipmunk burrow.
Eastern Newt – This amphibian can live up to 15 years and goes through many different stages over its lifetime. Though the adults are aquatic, the adolescent red eft lives on land and is easy to spot. If you hike or walk in the woods, you’re likely to notice this bright orange creature on the trail because they like to be out during the day.
Black Bear – Particularly in the towns that are in the parks and forests of our area, black bears are a common sight. Black bears are usually less than 200 pounds and are much more shy than their western counterparts, so they are pretty likely to run away if you cross paths. However, they are masters at garbage destruction so its important not to leave trash out, and if your cooking smells great they are known to break into homes for dinner.
Coyote – Coyotes are most active at night so its much more likely that you’ll hear them yipping and howling than see them. Though their habitat in the U.S. was initially in the western states, they can now be found everywhere. They respond to attempts at extermination by increasing their litter size and frequency. Though they aren’t a danger to humans they can be dangerous for pets.
Bald Eagle – There is a thriving population of our national birds in the area. There are several breeding pairs that nest near the Ashokan Reservoir, which is a protected bald eagle habitat, in the winter. They are commonly sighted near bodies of water where they prey on trout and other fish, soaring over our landscapes, and occasionally snacking on road kill.
Long-tailed weasel – These weasels enjoy a lot of different habitats but are very sneaky so you’re unlikely to see one, though you might see their tracks in the snow or dirt. The long-tailed weasel’s coat changes with the seasons, so they are bright white during the summer and shades of brown and gray the rest of the year.
Fisher cat – The fisher cat isn’t a cat and doesn’t eat fish. They are a large member of the weasel family (about four feet long) and are extremely elusive forest dwellers. Fisher cats have something of a bad reputation as aggressive predators – they are, after all, the porcupine’s only natural enemy – but because they are so shy they’re not a real danger to people or pets. But if you hear an animal shrieking in the night – that’s probably a fisher cat.
Porcupine – A porcupine looks a bit like a groundhog having a bad hair day. They are pretty shy, but if you do see a porcupine you’ll have time to check it out because they are pretty slow moving. Their only natural predators are the fisher cat, but most locals have a story about a dog that got too close and needed a trip to the vet to get quills picked out of their muzzle.