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Wildlife
Almanac

December
Below is a general, semi-seasonal description of mammal activity in central New Hampshire. A more detailed description for any one month can be accessed by using the links to the left.

Even in a state as small as New Hampshire, latitude and topography will affect timing of annual wildlife cycles. And in any one location, annual variation in climate and food resource availability will have a profound effect on when, if at all, certain activities occur. This almanac is intended to describe a typical year. But keep in mind that atypical conditions commonly exist.

Early Winter (late December to early February)
A time of reduced activity for many animals. Hibernators are in their dens and other animals subject to torpor are rarely seen outside. Even the active species may reduce their daily movement patterns because of deep snow and inclement weather. Juvenile bobcat and fisher are leaving their natal territory and striking off on their on. Black bear sows deliver their young. Mating occurs for beavers and gray squirrels.

Late Winter (early February to late March)
Height of the mating season. Most of the carnivores and rodents breed at this time, including the woodchuck, the earliest riser of the hibernators. Fishers and otters give birth (the miracle of delayed implantation), as well as gray squirrels that mated in January. Food is scarce but the promise of the coming spring makes this an opportune time for breeding.

Early Spring (late March to early May)
Birthing time for most of the carnivores and rodents. The bears leave their dens. Breeding season begins for the otters. Porcupines abandon their winter dens and switch their attention from tree bark and hemlock needles to buds and blossoms.

Late Spring (early May to late June)
Young are born for beaver, porcupine, deer, moose and skunk. All except the skunk are precocial and ready to hit the ground running. The jumping mice, the latest risers of the hibernators, emerge from their winter burrows. Mating occurs for the ermine and black bear. Bobcat kittens first venture out of the natal den, mink young are hunting with their mother, and chipmunk young of the year are leaving home to fend for themselves.

Early Summer (late June to early August)
Most young of the year are busy learning their trade under the watchful eye of mom (and dad, in the case of the canines).  Mating occurs for marten and the long-tail weasel. If the food supplies are adequate, chipmunks and red squirrels will begin a second breeding season. Second-year black bear cubs are searching for their own territories.

Late Summer (early August to late September)
High-energy berries and fruit help the herbivores and omnivores begin to bulk up in preparation for leaner times. Bears and porcupines are raiding the apple trees. Bobcat kittens use the white spots on their mother's tail and ears as beacons to follow in the night. The hairy-tailed mole begins its autumn molt.

Early Fall (late September to early November)
Jumping mice begin their hibernation. Breeding season starts for moose and porcupines. Mink and marten young disperse. Tree felling by beavers reaches its peak as the animals make dam repairs and store food in preparation for freeze-up. All but the strictest of carnivores take advantage of the acorn, beechnut and hazelnut crops.

Late Fall (early November to late December)
The deer breeding season occurs. Black bears and chipmunks enter their winter dens. Bobcats begin concentrating their hunting efforts in thick coniferous growth. The moose seek out balsam fir and mountain ash; consequently, most of them spend the winter at higher elevations.