Within the borders of Devils Tower National Monument, not all species that have had a historic presence at the park, still exist here. They currently are preserved in other locations, but conditions exist where, locally they have gone extinct. This local extinction is called extirpation.
The reasons for this extirpation are many, but some reasons include, human involved alteration of habitat, active hunting, and loss of habitat around the park.
Some of the animals that are rare(they may wander through the park periodically) or extirpated include:•Black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) -extirpated
•Lynx (Felis lynx) -extirpated
•Gray wolf (Canis lupus) -extirpated
•Black bear (Ursus americanus) -extirpated/rare
•Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) -extirpated
Devils Tower National Monument focuses on sustaining viable populations of native wildlife species.
Animals roam freely on a landscape not dominated by humans. An animal’s survival depends on its own daily decisions and natural selection. Animals with traits that make them better adapted to the environment will tend to survive, reproduce, and pass on their genetic characteristics more than animals without those traits. Through this process, natural selection shapes the behavior of wildlife.
“The resource is wildness.”
The importance of Devils Tower is not preserving the Tower, the prairie dogs, or the deer. Rather, the park’s significance is in preserving natural ecological processes “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” As Yellowstone ecologist Don Despain once said, “The resource is wildness.” We encourage you to celebrate this wildness: the opportunity to see the drama of the natural world unfold is an uncommon experience in our increasingly urban society.