Mammals

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.

Quick Facts

  • 67 different mammals live here, including many small mammals.
  • As of 2015, an estimated 717 grizzly bears live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
  • Black bears are common.
  • Gray wolves were restored in 1995. As of January 2016, 98 live primarily in the park.
  • Wolverine and lynx, which require large expanses of undisturbed habitat, live here.
  • Seven native ungulate species—elk, mule deer, bison, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and white-tailed deer—live here.
  • Nonnative mountain goats have colonized northern portions of the park.
 
A black and dark gray wolf in snow

Wolves

Gray wolves were restored in 1995.

A brown bear with silver-tipped fur and hump standing in sagebrush

Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bears may range over hundreds of square miles.

A bull elk with large antlers bugles in front of yellow leaves

Elk

Elk are the most abundant large mammal found in Yellowstone.

An adult black bear and cub stand in grass near a forest

Black Bears

Black bears are commonly seen in Yellowstone.

A large bull bison stands on a hill covered in some snow backed by blue sky

Bison

Yellowstone bison exhibit behavior like their ancient ancestors.

A moose without antlers lays on grass as a wet calf nuzzles its nose

Moose

Moose are the largest members of the deer family in Yellowstone.

Profile of a bighorn sheep with curled horns

Bighorn Sheep

Most bighorn sheep in Yellowstone are migratory.

A canine with large pointy ears looks at the camera

Coyotes

Coyotes are abundant throughout the park.

 
 
 

More Information

References

The Yellowstone Resources and Issues Handbook, updated annually, is the book our rangers use to answer many basic park questions.

Curlee, A.P. et al., eds. 2000. Greater Yellowstone predators: ecology and conservation in a changing landscape. Proceedings of the Third Biennial Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jackson, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Coop.

Feldhamer, G.A., B.C. Thompson, and J.A. Chapman, eds. 2003. Wild mammals of North America: Biology, management, and conservation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Garrott, R. et al., editors. 2009. The ecology of large mammals in Central Yellowstone. San Diego: Academic Press.

Ruth, T. et al. 2003. Large carnivore response to recreational big-game hunting along the Yellowstone National Park and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 31(4):1–12.

Schullery, P. and L. Whittlesey. 1999. Early wildlife history of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Report, available in Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center Library.

Streubel, D. 2002. Small mammals of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Juneau, Alaska: Windy Ridge Publishing.

White, P. J., Robert A. Garrott, and Glenn E. Plumb. 2013. Yellowstone's wildlife in transition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

(307) 344-7381
Recorded information. For road and weather information, please dial 307-344-2117.

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