The Wildlife Are Coming, The Wildlife Are Coming!

An Elk Good MorningWintertime brings pleasanter experiences to Yellowstone than the insane cold. As the temperatures drop and the snowflakes fall, some of the wildlife head to lower elevations for winter foraging.

The northern range of Yellowstone provides a winter home for an assortment of ungulates such as bison, elk, and pronghorn. And I am lucky enough to be able to watch the parade of wildlife march by my front door.

A Young Bull ElkThe first arrivals this year (that I’ve observed) have been the elk. Although 10,000 to 20,000 elk live in Yellowstone during the summer, the number decreases to under 9,000 in the winter because of the harsh conditions. According to the National Park Service’s publication, Yellowstone Resources and Issues 2008, only the Madison-Firehole herd lives year-round in the park.

In the morning a small herd of elk usually naps nearby my car, greeting me as I depart for work. In the afternoon, the herd wanders in my yard, pawing the snow to forage for vegetation. As I wrote today, a curious elk peered in my window. I also observed a group of pronghorn near Old Gardiner Road, and I'm sure the bison won't be far behind. I'm looking forward to the arrival of all of my seasonal neighbors!

An Elk Poses for a Photograph