Grand Teton National Park Foundation

Wildlife Whereabouts: Summer is FULL of Animal Activity

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016
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Young wolf pup. Photo courtesy of Gene Tremblay.

• Wolf pups from successfully reproducing packs have now emerged from their dens. They do not stray too far from their dens, rendezvous sites, or the watchful eye of adults. They are out and about, learning from the new world around them while playing and growing rapidly. • Trumpeter swan eggs are hatching. Young swans, or cygnets, are typically light gray in color and can swim within 24 hours of hatching. They will be roughly three and a half to four months old before they take their first flight. • The spring birth pulse for Jackson Hole ungulates (mammals with hooves) is winding down. Most ungulate babies are on their feet and able to move the day they are born. Some, like bison, use the follower strategy, where the new calves stay with their mothers at all times. Others, like deer, elk, and pronghorn, use the hider strategy, where mothers often hide their newborn fawns or calves and return to them periodically to nurse. • Moose are VERY protective of their young. Please be cautious and give them a wide berth. • Marmots, one of the largest mammals in the squirrel family, are active and feeding primarily in the morning and evening and rest during the heat of the day. • Neotropical birds, such as ruby crowned kinglets, western tanagers, and hummingbirds, have returned and are busy breeding and raising young. • Grizzly bear 610 emerged from her den in April with her two yearlings. If you are lucky enough to see them, please give them the space they deserve so that others can also enjoy their presence. Park regulations require that visitors stay 100 yards or further away from bears and wolves.
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Grizzly sow and cubs. Photo courtesy of Jerry Herman.

• Grizzly bear 399 is 20 years old and emerged with one cub-of-the-year this spring. Tragically, her cub was killed in a collision with a vehicle the evening of June 19th. Since the driver did not stop or report the event, there is no additional information about how it occurred. This is a good reminder for all of us to drive slowly and be vigilant for wildlife at all times, particularly after dark. There is a chance that 399 could breed this summer as a result of losing this cub and emerge next year with one or more cubs. Otherwise she would be expected to breed next spring and start a new reproductive cycle. • Mosquitoes are now out in force (but vary in abundance across the landscape), providing food to birds, bats, fish, and other species. • This year’s abundant spring rains have resulted in tremendous vegetation growth, particularly among grasses and forbs, which will benefit many species of wildlife. • As daily high temperatures rise with the season, mid-day wildlife activity will be reduced considerably. • Spring spawning has been observed among Utah suckers at Emma Matilda Lake, Heron Pond, and Jackson Lake, with pelicans taking advantage of associated feeding opportunities at some sites. More spawning congregations will occur in other park lakes in the coming weeks. • Cutthroat spawning in the Jackson Lake area appeared to be earlier than average with lower than average number of fish observed. The earlier run time is likely attributable to an early runoff.
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White pelican. Photo courtesy of Jerry Herman.