Wildlife within the Study Area depend on the vegetation communities to meet basic food and cover needs. Habitat quality depends on plant species present within the community and densities of plants (i.e. biodiversity of the vegetation community). Higher diversity plant communities generally provide better wildlife habitat. Within the Study Area the riparian communities (those associated with the springs and ephemeral streams) provide critical functional links across the landscape and their importance to wildlife habitat cannot be over emphasized.
Big game species include mountain lions, mule and white-tail deer, and javelina. Small game species include cottontail rabbits and black-tailed jackrabbits, both occurring in low to medium densities. Numerous other mammal species are resident in the Study Area including: rodents (e.g. kangaroo rats. ground squirrels, mice and woodrats), carnivores and omnivores (e.g. coyotes, the gray fox, ringtail cat, skunks, and bobcats), and several species of bats.
Game birds which use the Study Area, at least seasonally, include white-winged and mourning doves. Quail, including Gambel’s quail are also present. Waterfowl, particularly teal species, use stock tanks in the Study Area in the spring and fall.
A rich diversity of other birds occurs in the Study Area. These birds would include raptors (e.g. turkey vultures, several hawks, and the golden eagle), owls (e.g. the pygmy owl), and numerous songbirds (passeriformes) varying in size from ravens to flycatchers, wrens, and sparrows.
Reptiles include the desert tortoise, numerous lizards, the Gila monster, and several snake species including gopher snakes and the western diamondback rattlesnake.
The desert tortoise is listed as a candidate species on Arizona’s Threatened Native Wildlife list and is listed as a candidate Category 2 species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The desert tortoise occurs primarily in the Superstition Mountains.
Other species of concern in the Study Area are the federal endangered cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, which occurs both in desert scrub and riparian vegetation, and the Gila monster which is considered a “vulnerable” species.