Yellowstone Animals Come Alive in Spring
May 16th, 2013 by Emily Wachsman
Yellowstone National Park, with its distinction of being the first National Park in the country, is home to the highest concentration of large and small mammals in the lower 48 states. Yellowstone animals are almost as famous as the spurting geysers. Within the park boundaries, you will find the United States’ oldest and largest bison herd, elk, grizzly and black bears, coyotes, wolves, bighorn sheep, and more. The National Park Service provides a great mammal checklist to help you spot these amazing Yellowstone animals as you drive through the park. Stay at our relaxing bed and breakfast or vacation homes, and let us help guide you through this stunning National Park.
Seasonal cycles of movement determine where the best chance of Yellowstone animal viewing will be. While winters in Yellowstone are glorious, there is nothing that compares to a spring in Yellowstone. The world-famous bison population, one of the hallmark images of Yellowstone National Park, fluctuates from 2300 to 4500 animals. Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times, and is a species revered by many Native American tribes.
During the months of April and May, reddish-brown bison calves are born into the Yellowstone herd. Yellowstone is one of the only areas south of Canada that still has large grizzly bear populations, which makes them a popular attraction within the park. After hibernating for approximately 5 months, bears can typically be sighted between the months of March and November, most commonly in the open areas of the park. While here, look for black bears along the edges of trees in the Lamar and Hayden valleys, or among the trees near Mammoth and Tower. Now is the perfect time to visit Yellowstone for a glimpse of these beautiful bears and their newly born cubs.
With a population of more than 30,000 during the summer months, the Yellowstone Elk are the most abundant of the large Yellowstone mammals. Elk sightings are common and popular throughout Yellowstone, often pleasing crowds throughout the park. Late May or early June is the perfect time to come witness the burgeoning Elk population, as new calves join these popular herds. The overgrazing of the large Elk population, due in part to the dwindling wolf population prior to reintroduction, has been a source of controversy in the park in recent years.
Loss of habitat and extermination programs led to the demise of wolves throughout most of the United States by early in the 20th century. In 1995 and 1996, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. Today, there are over 300 of their descendants living in the area. The Yellowstone Park Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve and enhance Yellowstone National Park. This organization raises money each year to help support Yellowstone’s Wolf Project.
Spring is a joyous time in the Yellowstone, with new babies being born daily, and animal sightings at their peak. However, during this time of year, it is especially important to remember that wild animals, especially females with young, are unpredictable and dangerous. Each year, visitors to the park fail to keep this in mind, and are subsequently injured. While here, it is important to remember that feeding the Yellowstone animals is not permitted in any way, and all visitors must keep 100 yards away from wolves and bears, and 25 yards from other animals. Yellowstone is a true national treasure that we look forward to sharing it with you. When you book your room at our Montana bed and breakfast or vacation homes, rest assured that our knowledgeable innkeepers will help you make the most out of your encounters with these amazing Yellowstone animals.