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Yellowstone Wildlife

Moose Calf Portrait, this little girl must have spent hours in makeup before posing for me for our session in Yellowstone National Park. (Daryl Hunter's "The Hole Picture"/Daryl L. Hunter)

Moose Calf Portrait, this little girl must have spent hours in makeup before posing for me for our session

Grizzly 399 and cubs crossing bridge in Grand Teton National Park (© Daryl Hunter's "The Hole Picture"/Daryl L. Hunter)

Grizzly 399 and cubs crossing Pilgrim Creek Bridge in Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone’s abundant and diverse wildlife are as famous as its geysers. After the reintroduction of the wolf all of the wildlife species that inhabited the park when it was first explored over 100 years ago survive today qualifying Yellowstone as the only intact eco-system in the lower 48 states. Early morning and evening hours are the best times to view wildlife but during the evening is another productive time for wildlife viewing.

Habitat preferences and seasonal cycles of movement determine where a particular animal may be at a particular time. Early morning and evening hours are when animals tend to be feeding and thus are more easily seen. But remember that the numbers and variety of animals you see are largely a matter of luck, coincidence and serendipity; however always remember we make our own luck, we prey for serendipity.

Elk Cow and calf crossing Madison River in  Yellowstone National Park (Daryl Hunter's "The Hole Picture"/Daryl L. Hunter)

Elk Cow and calf crossing Madison River in Yellowstone National Park

The magnificent wildlife found in Yellowstone is one of the primary reasons that people visit Yellowstone Park each year. Around every corner lies the chance to view bison, elk, deer, and even grizzly bear or wolf. This is truly the Wild West.

Wild animals, especially females with young, are unpredictable. Keep a safe distance from all wildlife. Each year a number of park visitors are injured by wildlife when approaching too closely. Approaching on foot within 100 yards of bears or wolves or within 25 yards of other wildlife is prohibited. Please use roadside pullouts when viewing wildlife. Use binoculars or telephoto lenses for safe viewing and to avoid disturbing them. By being sensitive to they need for elbowroom you will see more of an animal’s natural behavior and activity. All Wildlife have what is known as a “Fight or Flight distance”, this the distance where they decided whether to take flight and run away from or too just stomp you to death, gore you, or maul you. It is not good to test an animals Fight or Flight distance.

Black Wolf of the Canyon Pack chases elk in Yellowstone (© Daryl L. Hunter - The Hole Picture/Daryl L. Hunter)

Black Wolf of the Canyon Pack chases elk in Yellowstone

Most harmful conflicts between people and wildlife could be avoided. Respect the needs of wildlife for undisturbed territory. Never chase or charge any animal. Taking these precautions is particularly important near breeding, nesting or feeding areas. Backcountry use may be restricted during certain times of the year to minimize disturbance of wildlife. Some animals may be quite curious, but resist the temptation to feed them. Even in low use areas, feeding wildlife can alter their migration, feeding habits, and reproduction levels, resulting in unnatural behavior, population structure and species composition. Some animals may readily approach humans but can bite, scratch and kick without warning. Detour around large animals such as moose, bison and elk, especially during mating season or when young animals are present if you want to live.

Bison graze at the foot of the  Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park (© Daryl L. Hunter - The Hole Picture/Daryl L. Hunter)

Bison graze at the foot of the Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Feeding bears is the same as putting a gun to their head yourself and pulling the trigger because they will from then on forward associate people with a free meal so they will soon be destroyed by park bear management team for the safety of the visitors.

Early morning and evening hours are the best times to view wildlife but during the evening is another productive time for wildlife viewing.  While in Yellowstone always keep your camera ready as photo opportunities are often fleeting and it is important to be ready.

The best way to see animals in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks is to hire a guide and the best is Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris who specialize in finding critters and leading photographers to their best opportunities for wildlife and scenic photos.

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2 thoughts on “Yellowstone Wildlife

  1. Larry Lipscomb says:

    Mr. Hunter,
    Dwayne Sampson may have previously inquired, but I am interested in a full days photo safari. I use a Canon 7D with a 100-400 telephoto lens. The only other lens I own at this time is 18-55. I bought these before going on a photo safari with Wyman Meinzer in West Texas. Wyman called up coyotes for two days after situating us in image taking locations. I hope you have some suggestions for a lens that do well taking wildlife images.
    The 7D is my first digital camera and I am most assuredly, an amateur, but love the outdoors and it’s life. I have carried a camera, a point and shoot, to the deer blind for the past 5 years, instead of a gun, and finally decided to pursue this hobby further. Our trip is tentatively scheduled for the last two weeks in June, 2014.
    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Larry

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