Yellowstone is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states. In addition to having a diversity of small animals, Yellowstone is notable for its predator–prey complex of large mammals, including eight ungulate species (bighorn sheep, bison, elk, moose, mountain goats, mule deer, pronghorn, and white-tailed deer) and seven large predators (black bears, Canada lynx, coyotes, grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolverines, and wolves).
The National Park Service’s goal is to maintain the ecological processes that sustain these mammals and their habitats while monitoring the changes taking place in their populations. Seasonal or migratory movements take many species across the park boundary where they are subject to different management policies and uses of land by humans.
Understanding the links between climate change and these drivers will be critical to informing the ecology and management of Yellowstone’s wildlife in the years to come.
Carnivores (Order Carnivora)
Carnivores all started out as meat-eaters, but many have evolved to be omnivores (consumers of plants and animals). Over a dozen carnivores can be found within the park.
Burrowing predator of small rodents.
Black bears are commonly seen in Yellowstone.
One of the elusive cats of Yellowstone.
Lynx are one of three cat species found in Yellowstone.
Largest of the cat species in Yellowstone.
Coyotes are abundant throughout the park.
Gray wolves, restored in 1995, freely roam the park.
Learn about the biology of this top predator.
Long-tailed weasels change color based on the season.
Member of the weasel family that lives in woodlands.
Smallest of the three canid species found in the park.
The most aquatic of the weasels in the park.
Ungulates (Order Artiodactyla)
Ungulates are hooved herbivores (plant-eaters), and there are two types: even-toed and odd-toed. All of the native ungulates found in Yellowstone are even-toed, while there is one odd-toed ungulate you may see in the park: horses.
Yellowstone bison exhibit behavior like their ancient ancestors.
Most bighorn sheep in Yellowstone are migratory.
Elk are the most abundant large mammal found in Yellowstone.
Moose are the largest members of the deer family in Yellowstone.
Mountain goats are considered non-native species.
Also called blacktail deer, they are an exclusively western species.
Rodents (Order Rodentia)
Rodents are a vital part of the ecosystems in Yellowstone, serving as a major food source for many of the park's predators. All rodents have a pair of incisors in their upper and lower jaws with a large gap between the incisors and the molars. The incisors continue to grow throughout their lives, so they continually wear them down through chewing.
Beaver affects habitat structure and dynamics through the damming and diverting of streams.
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Found throughout Yellowstone, they are often mistaken as chipmunks.
Least chipmunks are commonly seen around the park.
Perhaps the most important prey species in the park.
Very active burrowing rodents.
Common woodland rodent.
Hares, Rabbits, and Pika (Order Lagomorpha)
These mammals are similar to rodents, except that they only eat plants and have four incisors in their upper jaws.
Bats (Order Chiroptera)
The only mammals that can fly, there are 13 species that call the park home.
Last updated: November 9, 2023