LARGE GAME IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE BLACK MESA RESERVE.
Black-tailed deer, antelope, black and silver tipped bears and mountain lions are the larger game animals which frequent the yellow pine forests in summer. Wild turkeys are also common.
The black-tailed deer are still common and generally distributed. In winter the heavy snow drives them to a lower range in the pinon belt toward the Little Colorado and also down the slope of Tonto Basin, both of these areas lying outside the reserve. The Arizona white-tailed deer is resident throughout the year in comparatively small numbers on the brushy slopes of Tonto Basin, and sometimes strays up in summer into the border of the pine forest. Antelope were once plentiful on the plains of the Little Colorado, and in summer ranged through the open yellow pine forest now included in the reserve. They still occur, in very limited numbers, in this forest during the summer, and at the first snowfall descend to the lower border of the pinon belt and adjacent grassy plains. Both species of bears occur throughout the pine forests in summer, often following sheep herds. As winter approaches and the sheep are moved out of the higher ranges, many of the bears go over “The Rim” to the slopes of Tonto Basin, where they find acorns, juniper berries and other food, until cold weather causes them to hibernate. The mountain lions are always most numerous on the rugged slopes of Tonto Basin, especially during winter, when sheep and game have left the elevated forest.
From the foregoing notes it is apparent that the northwestern and middle portions of the Black Mesa Reserve are without proper winter range for game within its limits, and that the conditions are otherwise unfavorable for their use as game preserves.
THE SOUTHEASTERN SECTION OF THE BLACK MESA RESERVE.
The southeastern portion of the reserve remains to be considered. The map shows this to be a rectangular area, about thirty by fifty miles in extent, lying between the White Mountain Indian Reservation and the western border of New Mexico, and covering the adjacent parts of Apache and Graham counties. It includes the eastern part of the White Mountains, which culminate in Ord and Thomas peaks, rising respectively to 10,266 feet and to 11,496 feet, on the White Mountain Indian Reservation, just off the western border of the Forest Reserve. This section of the reserve is strikingly more varied in physical conditions than the northern portion, as will be shown by the following description:
The northwestern part of this section, next to the peaks just mentioned, is an elevated mountainous plateau country forming the watershed between the extreme headwaters of the Little Colorado on the north and the Black and San Francisco rivers, tributaries of the Gila, on the south. The divide between the heads of these streams is so low that in the midst of the undulating country, where they rise, it is often difficult to determine at first sight to which drainage some of the small tributaries belong. This district is largely of volcanic formation, and beds of lava cover large tracts, usually overlaid with soil, on which the forest flourishes.