Grand Teton National Park - Wildlife - Bison resting in winter

January Wildlife Whereabouts: Adapting to the Late Snow

Grand Teton National Park - Wildlife - Bison resting in winter

Cold temperatures and snowfall have Grand Teton’s wildlife utilizing all of their incredible adaptations to navigate and survive the harsh winter season. 

  • This year the snow arrived late creating camouflage difficulties for snowshoe hares and weasels, whose coats turn white as the days shorten. Their winter coats help hide them from predators when traveling on snow, but stand out against the brown background of a low snow
  • Moose use their long legs to move through deep snow to areas of preferred forage. Moose calves remain with their mothers through the winter and follow behind them while trail breaking through the snow. Moose also use their highly developed sense of smell to find only the most nutritious parts of shrubs under the snow.
  • Moose have begun congregating in areas where bitterbrush is abundant, such as the sagebrush flats near the Jackson Hole Airport and north of the town of Kelly.
  • Bison use their massive heads, thick skin, and muscular necks to move snow from side to side, creating craters where they can access buried forage. The dense curly fur on their heads protects them when immersed in snow foraging or when winter winds blow. Bison face directly into winter storms, protected by their coat and low profile.
  • Wolverines and Canada lynx remain highly active, using large, snow-adapted feet to move through the environment.
  • The American dipper, also known as the water ouzel, remains highly active all winter, seeking areas of open, moving water where they bob on rocks between dives for aquatic insects.
  • Our cold-water fish are supremely adapted to surviving winter, often under the ice for months at a time. Nevertheless, like other wildlife winter is stressful for fish. Sport fishing opportunities in the park are limited during winter to help reduce undue stress on fish.
  • Teton range bighorn sheep hunker down on small, high elevation ridges blown free of snow.
  • Five wolf packs (Lower Gros Ventre, Horsetail Creek, Jedediah, Pacific Creek, and Two Ocean) with approximately 45 wolves had home ranges that overlapped Grand Teton National Park in 2023.
  • Wolves breed in February, and January is a time when pack composition can be dynamic, with some wolves leaving their packs to find a mate and possibly create a pack of their own.
  • Please obey posted winter wildlife closures and voluntary bighorn sheep winter zones, both are designed to protect ungulates during winter. Information about closures and voluntary bighorn sheep winter zones can be found here: Temporary & Wildlife Closures - Grand Teton National Park (U.S. National Park Service) ( and Winter Zones Map — Teton Sheep Working Group

Please consider the space and energy conservation needs of wildlife during winter and don’t approach them closely, even though they may appear unconcerned. In many cases, they simply have nowhere else to go until snow depths decrease.



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