The month of May, despite some of the cold and rainy weather we’ve had, has been a time of robust animal activity in Grand Teton National Park.
• Bison, moose, and elk calving seasons are at their peaks. Nearly all bison and elk have moved off of the National Elk Refuge. They will follow snow melt and vegetation green-up to northern parts of the valley.
• Wolf pups are making their first exploratory appearances from their dens.
• Female black and grizzly bears with cubs are now out and about, but those with cubs of the year are making only small movements so that their tiny cubs can keep up. Several lone grizzly bears, one female grizzly bear with 1 cub, and one female grizzly bear with 2 yearlings have been observed in the park this spring. In addition, we have received several reports of black bears throughout the park, including one with 3 cubs near Jenny Lake.
• Neotropical migrating birds (western tanagers, hummingbirds, warblers, osprey, and others) have returned to the valley and are beginning nesting activities.
• Cutthroat trout are initiating spawning as water levels rise with spring runoff.
• Bald eagle eggs have hatched and young nestlings are being closely guarded by their brooding parents.
• High rivers and streams resulting from melting snow and recent rainfall represent a significant hazard to baby bears, elk, moose, and bison.
•The sage grouse strutting season has ended and hens have dispersed from leks to nest at brood rearing sites in adjacent sagebrush grasslands.
•This time of year, nesting raptors often vocalize alarm calls when you are too close to their nests. Bears, moose, bison, and elk are also particularly protective of their young. Please remember to give all wildlife a wide berth. If you are altering an animal’s behavior, such as eliciting an alarm call or any other kind of vigilance or aggression directed at you, you are too close!
Be safe and enjoy the park’s remarkable wildlife!