Thanks to a plethora of climatic conditions and habitat produced by the longtime, lumbering growth of the Continental Divide, Montana-based Glacier National Park hosts a huge array of wildlife spread across its 1 million acres. In fact, the park has almost all of its original endemic plants and animal species. In this slideshow, we take a look at just a few of them.
Big Horn Sheep
Bighorn sheep crossed from Siberia to North America via the Bering Land Bridge during the Pleistocene ice ages. Two-hundred years ago, populations numbered in the millions. Hunting, competition from domesticated sheep and disease have led to declining numbers.
Prevalent throughout Glacier National Park, bald eagles mate for life and usually stick to the same territory—even the same nest sometimes—to feed and breed for years.
Black bear cub
Bears spend a lot of time eating, so avoid hiking in obvious feeding areas. These include berry patches, cow parsnip thickets and fields of glacier lilies. Be especially wary of cubs—while they might seem harmless to approach, likely their mama is close by—and she’ll protect her young ones by any means necessary.
This crafty and vocal bird is aptly named—it’s a master of hiding thousands of nuts during the summertime and remembering where they are in the winter. During the summer, you’ll hear them at high elevations thumping their wings and squawking loudly.
The largest remaining U.S. grizzly bear population (outside of Alaska, of course) resides within the confines of Glacier National Park. The latest estimate, according to the National Park Service, is just over 300 individual bears.
Though still on the endangered species list, the gray wolf is making a comeback in the United States, with reintroduction efforts in West and Upper Midwest. WWF supports measures to protect wolves through funding habitat conservation programs and opposing legalized wolf hunting while working to mitigate ranchers’ concerns for livestock.
Moose reside in the park year-round, occupying its coniferous forests, lakes, slow streams and marshy areas.
Wearing coats that match the steep, snowy slopes where they thrive, sure-footed mountain goats stick to the highest elevations of Glacier National Park, keeping them safe from predators. Occasionally, however, the ungulates come down to lower elevations to check out other mammals.
Indigenous to western North America, mule deer get their names from their donkey-like ears. An adult buck usually weighs 300 pounds, though sightings of some massive 500 pounders are on the books.
Related more to your house kitty than to big cats elsewhere in the world, it can be exceedingly difficult to actually see this majestic stalk-and-ambush predator in Glacier National Park. They’re quite elusive.