Here are some descriptions of high profile mammals followed by a species list.

Black Bear

There have been several reports of sightings of the black bear, which has been known to range several miles in one day. However, most of the sightings indicate that only one bear was seen, and this is because bears do not live in the nature preserve. They may spend a day or two in the preserve during the summer, but in general, the conditions of our nature preserve do not provide an ideal habitat. Bears prefer exposed rock to build their dens, which is abundant across the street on Bunn Hill Road and toward Nuthatch Hollow but absent in the preserve itself. Also, despite popular belief, Bears are omnivores. Although they will scavenge the carrion of smaller animals such as rabbits and voles, they prefer soft green, new growth plants, spring shrubs and fruits, which the huge deer population has decimated.
Finally, it is important to note that these bears are more afraid of you than you are of them. Their senses of smell and hearing are excellent, and they are able to see movement (but not detail) very well, and if they detect a human in the area, they will more than likely run away. They are timid animals in general, so if you see a bear, make yourself known. Try to yell, scream, or even make yourself look large and it will probably escape. Be sure to give it enough room to flee; though timid, bears will fight if they are cornered. Since the Nature Preserve is mostly open land, this will probably not be a problem.
Bears will not likely be seen during the school year, as there are too many people around. Bears have been spotted up on Lehigh Avenue, eating from people's bird feeders and traipsing around their gardens. Though the general population of black bears is growing in this area, sighting are still very rare.
Information courtesy of Michael Armstrong.


Unlike bears, evidence collected from the pipeline, CIW and infirmary woods has shown that coyotes have paired up and denned to raise litters. They have also been spotted toward the southwestern edge of the preserve bordering private property and crossing the main road in the early mornings, scavenging for food. Populations have recently expanded to the CIW woods and marsh areas, but this is probably due to population shift due to resource depletion and not an actual increase in number.
Coyotes have been blamed for the local decline in deer population, which is untrue on many levels. Coyotes hunt in pairs, not packs, and it is very difficult for a pair to take down a deer. Instead, coyotes mainly eat small mammals and birds, and, very rarely, very small deer. They are very tenacious, moving very fluidly as they skulk low to the ground. They are quiet and agile, and are rarely seen by people. When coyotes are spotted, it is either because the viewer knows what he or she is looking for, or it is a complete accident.
Like bears, coyotes are very afraid of people. The same rules apply; if you make yourself known, it is likely to retreat.
Information courtesy of Michael Armstrong.

White-Tailed Deer

The deer on campus is 500-600 times more abundant than would be sustainable in CIW and Pipeline Woods, where they are frequently spotted. These deer are considered loners and generally do not like people, but they can learn. Many have been so used to seeing people that they have become borderline petting zoo pets. They are wonderful to observe as long as you are subtle about it. In the actual Nature Preserve, the number of deer is a bit lower, but still abnormally high. These deer are more wild and rather skittish about people. Deer have also been seen close campus and on Murray Hill Road and Lehigh Avenue, residents having been encouraging their appearances by feeding them. Information courtesy of Michael Armstrong.

For more information on the overpopulation of deer and its effects on the preserve, click here.


Sign of the work of beavers can be seen throughout the wetland areas of the Nature Preserve. Along the Marsh Trail, many trees have been felled by the industrious beavers. They feed on the cambium layer of bark, usually from Aspen trees. Along the shores of the wetlands many “beaver canals” can be found. Over the years, beavers have built four major dams in the wetlands and three smaller dams in the Marsh Trail Ditch. Two dams are visible from the ‘87 walkway, the bridge. The lines of vegetation making the ‘shoreline’ east and west of the bridge are beaver dams. Beavers have also built many lodges which have cycled through use and deterioration. Many of the lodges are used by muskrats and as Canada Goose nests.
Since 2000, there has been a single dominant family: “Big Guy” the male (who appears to be close to 50 lbs), a female, and usually two offspring consisting of the current year’s kit and the previous year’s “teenager.” The family seems to have one kit at a time, but many kits are possible. The offspring usually disperse (or are kicked out) in their second summer. The dispersing young often “train” in the Marsh Trail ditch before leaving the Preserve completely. In 2002, a family of nine beavers (four adults and five kits) tried to move into the Nature Preserve, but they were promptly driven off by the dominant original family. In the winter of 2004, one beaver died on the bank of the Marsh Trail ditch next to the lodge of unknown causes (possibly sick or of old age.) The Beaver population seems to be in transition. In January 2007, a large beaver, possibly “Big Guy” getting himself kicked out by a younger male, moved from the main pond to the Marsh Trail Ditch. He made a quick fix to the lodge in the ditch for the winter. There seems to be a different male in the main pond who is a little more skittish than “Big Guy.”
The mother beaver usually waits in the water, protecting the kit, while the male brings branches to her to eat. Interestingly, the beavers have become active later and later as the years go by. As more people use the Nature Preserve, the beavers have changed their activity time from during the day, to evening, to late night. Sometimes, they can be seen in the early evening, but sighting them is becoming increasingly rare. (Muskrats are often mistaken for beavers)

Mammal List

In Nature Preserve= Definitely observed visually or by sign
Possible Occurrence= possibly in NP by virtue of being within range

Didelphimorphia (American Marsupials)
In Nature Preserve
Virginia Opossum        Didelphis virginiana
Soricomorpha (Insectivores)
In Nature Preserve
Northern Short-tailed Shrew        Blarina brevicauda
Pygmy Shrew         Sorex hoyi   (confirmed specimen 2021)

Star-Nosed Mole  Condylura cristata

Possible Occurrence
Hairy-tailed Mole        Parascalops breweri
Masked Shrew         Sorex cinereus
Water Shrew         Sorex palustris
Smoky Shrew         Sorex fumeus
Long-tailed Shrew         Sorex dispar
Least Shrew         Cryptotis parva
Eastern Mole         Scalopus aquaticus

Chiroptera (Bats)
In Nature Preserve
Little Brown Bat        Myotis lucifugus
Big Brown Bat        Eptesicus fuscus
Red Bat        Lasiurus borealis
Tri-Colored Bat (Formerly Eastern Pipistrelle)   Perimyotis subflavus

Possible Occurrence
Northern Long-Eared Bat       Myotis septentrionalis
Indiana Bat         Myotis sodalis
Small-footed Bat         Myotis leibii
Silver-haired Bat         Lasionycteris noctivagans
Hoary Bat         Lasiurus cinereus

Canidae (Dogs)
In Nature Preserve
Coyote        Canis latrans
Red Fox         Vulpes vulpes
Gray Fox        Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Ursidae (Bear)
Occasionally in Nature Preserve
Black Bear        Ursus americanus

Procyonidae (Raccoons)
In Nature Preserve
Raccoon         Procyon lotor

Mustelidae (Weasels and relatives)
In Nature Preserve
Ermine         Mustela erminea
Long-tailed Weasel        Mustela frenata
Least Weasel       Mustela nivalis
Mink       Mustela vison
Fisher       Martes pennanti Tracks and Sightings since 2007

In Broome County
River Otter         Lontra canadensis

Mephitidae (Skunks)
In Nature Preserve
Striped Skunk         Mephitis mephitis

Felidae (Cats)
Likely occasionally In Nature Preserve (no reports)
Bobcat        Lynx rufus

Artiodactyla (Even-Hoofed ungulates)
In Nature Preserve
White-tailed Deer        Odocoileus virginianus
Moose        Alces alces

Rodentia (Rodents)
In Nature Preserve
Eastern Chipmunk        Tamias striatus
Woodchuck        Marmota monax
Gray Squirrel        Sciurus carolinensis
Red Squirrel        Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
Southern Flying Squirrel        Glaucomys volans
Northern Flying Squirrel        Glaucomys sabrinus
Beaver        Castor canadensis
Muskrat        Ondatra zibethicus
Deer Mouse        Peromyscus maniculatus
White-footed Mouse        Peromyscus leucopus
Southern Red-backed Vole        Clethrionomys gapperi
Meadow Vole        Microtus pennsylvanicus
Porcupine        Erethizon dorsatum

Possible Occurrence
Alleghany Woodrat Neotoma magister Possibly found in Owl Pellet in BUNP 2007
Rock Vole        Microtus chrotorrhinus
Pine Vole        Pitymys pinetorum
Southern Bog Lemming        Synaptomys cooperi
Black Rat        Rattus rattus
Norway Rat        Rattus norvegicus
House Mouse        Mus musculus
Meadow Jumping Mouse        Zapus hudsonius
Woodland Jumping Mouse        Napaeozapus insignis

Lagomorpha (Rabbits/Hares)
In Nature Preserve
Eastern Cottontail        Sylvilagus floridanus
New England Cottontail        Sylvilagus transitionalis
Varying Hare        Lepus americanus