Species at Risk

Grizzly sow and cub of the year walking through dry grass and a patch of snow

Threatened Species

A number of species listed as "threatened" on the Endangered Species Act live in Grand Teton National Park. The best known of those species is the grizzly bear (Ursos arctos). Nearly eliminated from the ecosystem due to hunting and eradication programs, intensive conservation efforts over the last 40 years allowed grizzly bears to make a remarkable recovery. Today, an estimated 800 grizzly bears live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Lesser-known threatened species include the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), and the western glacier stonefly (Zapada glacier). Lynx are known for their very large, fur-covered feet allowing them to travel easily over deep, soft snow. This member of the cat family preys on snowshoe hares that are abundant in the park. The yellow-billed cuckoo is fairly common in the East, but has become rare in the West. This deciduous forest-dwelling bird is one of the few birds that can eat hairy catepillers. During spring they have a distinctive knocking call, but later they coo more like a dove. The western glacier stonefly was recently identified in the park reported only in the cold water of glacier meltwater. With receding glaciers these stoneflys are at risk.

 
Verbenone packets on whiteback pine trunks.
Whitebark pine trees with verbenone packets attached to ward off mountain pine beetles.

GRTE/Bemis

Candidate for Listing

Whitebark pine trees produce nuts rich in fat and protein, These nuts are a significant source of nutrition for grizzly bears during hyperphagia - the intensive feeding that bears go through prior to hibernation. Two main risks to these sentinels of the high country are mountain pine beetles, a native species, and blister rust, an invasive disease. Verbenone packets, the white packets in the picture, are attached to pine trees to trick mountain pine beetles into infesting another tree.

Of the whitebark pines surveyed in 2018, almost 40 percent were dead, 30 percent were attacked by beetles, 57 percent were infected with blister rust, and only 15 percent produced cones. This keystone species provide a significant ecological role compared to their abundance. These trees maintain water availability by trapping, snow, promoting snowdrift retention and protracting melt, and preventing erosion of steep sites. In additon, their seeds are an important food source fro Clark's nutcrackers, grizzly and black bears, squirrels and other species.

 
Male greater sage grouse srutting with check puffed out.
Male greater sage grouse strutting during spring.

GRTE/Stratton

Species of Concern

In addition to the threatened species and candidate species, there are also species of concern. Popular, iconic species such as bald eagles, gray wolves, and greater sage grouse are closely monitored every year to track their populations.

Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) thrive along the Snake and Gros Ventre rivers. They feed primarily on fish, but also feed on small mammals, waterfowl, and carrion. Once considered an endangered species, these majestic birds have experienced a dramatic recovery. In 2018, thirteen pairs nested and fledged 13 eaglets. Look for these birds soaring over the water in the park.

Gray wolves (Canis lupus) introduced into Yellowstone in 1995 expanded their territories south into Grand Teton National Park by 1999. In 2018, a minimum of 32 wolves in 4 packs resided in Jackson Hole and the Teton Range. The species has been on and off the endangered species list, but is currently de-listed. Look for the largest member of the dog family to form packs. Unlikely coyotes, wolves may range to white to black and usually in groups.

Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) historically occurred in sagebrush habitats across the American West. Populations have declined dramatically throughout the range over the past 50 years. Sage grouse are best known for their mating displays that they perform each spring in areas called leks. These birds will return to the same leks for generations, and put on quite a display. Look for them at dawn in the early spring performing their dances in open spaces within the sagebrush.

Last updated: April 29, 2020

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 170
Moose, WY 83012

Phone:

(307) 739-3399

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