Wildlife Whereabouts: Bears, birds, bats and more!

Ryan Sheets_Great Gray Owl Landing Fall

Great Gray Owl Photo by Ryan Sheets

  •  Moose have begun concentrating in the sagebrush/grassland areas in the south end of the park. They are seeking bitterbrush and other foods in these areas that provide fall nutrition.
  • Mule deer and pronghorn are migrating to distant wintering areas south, east, and west of the park.
  • Mule deer coats have now turned from their summer tawny brown to an elegant winter grey, one of the more visible examples of seasonal pelage changes in temperate climate ungulates.
  • Elk will begin migrating as November temperatures cool and snow begins to accumulate in the high country.
  • Most black bears and a few grizzly bears will be in winter dens by early November. By the end of the month most grizzly bears will have gone to sleep as well. But remember, a few grizzlies will be out and about well into December!
  • Mediocre to poor berry and whitebark pine cone production this year means that some bears may enter dens in poor condition. For females, poor food years are often followed by reduced cub production.
  • The woods are notably quiet, as most migratory birds have left the valley for their wintering grounds. Grey jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, chickadees, ravens, great-horned owls, bald eagles, pine grosbeaks, goldeneyes, and trumpeter swans are a few of the prominent birds that remain here year around.
  • Rough legged hawks, long distant migrants which spend their summers in the Arctic, usually arrive during November.
  • Winter wildlife closures both in and out of the park commence in December, reminding us that wildlife are particularly sensitive to human disturbance during winter.
  • As temperatures drop, bat activity noticeably declines in the fall. Bats in the park rear young throughout spring, summer, and fall, and little is known about their migratory behavior. Bats that roost in structures include the common little brown bat, as well as Townsend’s big-eared, big brown, fringe-tailed, long-legged, and California myotis bats. Tree-roosting species include the hoary, silver-haired, and long-eared bat.

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