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Wildlife Reports for September:

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While many readers would like me to report every single animal (down to the GPS location), there has to be a few I can’t and won’t post. I might post 95% of them, but am compelled to hold back one some. The actual reports below will get you close and should definitely give you a head start against anyone not reading this blog.  Here’s a list I can’t report:

  • Nests & Dens: Such as eagle, hawk, owl, heron, crane, bluebird, badger, coyote, fox, bear, etc.
  • Kills: Such as elk, deer, bison.
  • Baby Moose: I can give zones, but not specific spots.
  • Animals on Private Property:

Wildlife Viewing Distances and Official GTNP Rules:

  • The 100 Yard Rule(s) – Wildlife viewing distances have been changing and enforcement has been changing. This one is too important to miss!

Sightings and Basic Zones For Most Animals in September:

  • Elk: During much of September, Elk will be in the rut. They will be stripping their velvet early in the month, then the herd bulls gather their cows into harems. Look for them along the edges of the forests early and late. It is not uncommon to see a group near Timbered Island, around Jenny Lake, and around Lupine Meadows. Other herds work around Willow Flats near the Oxbow. Sept 4 Update: By now, many of the bulls will be stripping their velvet. We’ll be hearing bugling soon, if not already.
  • Moose: Bulls start shedding their velvet not long after the first of the month, then begin looking for potential mates. They may spend some time around cows with a calf, but will normally begin looking for single cow. Moose feed on willow shoots near the river bottoms and bitter brush usually found alongside sagebrush. They feed early and late and spend the middle of the day bedded down and generally out of sight. Sept. 4 Entry: Most of the moose I have been seeing still have their velvet. One of my favorites (Washakie) managed to strip his off while out of sight. Other should begin stripping theirs soon. Once they begin, the bulk of the velvet can be gone in 15-20 minutes. “Tassles” of velvet near the base of their antlers can take a while to scrape off. Sept. 6: I found a cow and calf grazing next to the water at Schwabacher Landing. September 28 Entry: On September 24th, a cow moose had to be put down after jumping over a picnic table and landing in a fire grate at the Gros Ventre Campground. She had serious injuries. Stories of photographers crowding the animals were reported in the local newspaper and the area news channels, prompting the GTNP to make enforcement of the 25 yard rule and safe viewing distances a priority. Other accounts contradict the original story, suggesting the bull chased the cow into the table. I wasn’t there, so I hesitate to point fingers or place blame. No matter who or what caused the instance, the rules are now being strictly enforced park wide. For moose, a minimum distance of 25 yards is required and most of the time the rangers and brigade are reported keeping people even farther away.
  • Mule Deer:  Many stay in the river bottoms up and down the Snake River and Gros Ventre River. The area around the town of Kelly is usually a good place to see them.
  • Pronghorns (sometimes called Antelope): Pronghorns can usually be seen along the Gros Ventre Road between the highway and Kelly, but also along Antelope Flats Road near Mormon Row. Another small herd can sometimes be seen near Timbered Island and Lupine Meadows on the Teton Park Road. At times, you can see small herds near the Jackson Hole Airport.
  • Bison (sometimes called Buffalo): Seen often along the Gros Ventre Road, along Mormon Row, and Antelope Flats Road. Another group of them moves farther North and are often seen along the highway at Elk Flats. A few move close to the Snake River near Triangle X Ranch. Bison and Pronghorns are often the most dependable for viewing in GTNP. Sept 6: A herd of 150 or so were just north of Antelope Flats road.
  • Wolves: GTNP has quite a few packs of wolves, but they are seen much less hear than in Yellowstone. A few are seen on the south end of Blacktail Butte and one will occasionally cross Gros Ventre Road to get to the river bottom. Wolves roam the entire Snake River river bottom, but are difficult to see because of the limited access. Some are seen in the Willow Flats area near Jackson Lake Lodge. Another pack hangs around the Buffalo Fork region most of the year. Generally speaking, wolves follow the elk.
  • Grizzly Bears: During most of the Spring and Summer, the area around Oxbow Bend seems to attract and hold the most bears and give the most bear sightings. However, they are now roaming the entire valley—all the way down to the National Elk Refuge. Most sightings are around Oxbow Bend and up Pacific Creek. 399 has two yearling cubs. 610 recently showed up with a single cub of the year (COY). Grizzly 760 is reported to now have a tracking collar. Try looking for them along Pacific Creek, Oxbow Bend, Cattleman’s Bridge, Willow Flats, The Jackson Lake Dam area, Pilgrim Creek Road, and towards Colter Bay. Just watch for a whole line of vehicles parked end to end along a road in that area, but be sure to stay 100 yards from the bear- whether you are outside your vehicle or still inside. They do not allow people to take photos from inside a sun roof or out the windows inside 100 yards. Rangers are handing out tickets this year!
  • Black Bears: For many years, black bear sightings were common around the Jackson Lake Dam, up Signal Mountain and near the Signal Mountain Campground. With Grizzlies roaming around, black bear sightings are much less frequent until fall when they start feeding on berries. The most common area for Black Bears in September is along the Moose-Wilson Road. The road down to Spaulding Bay was reopened in 2014 and a few Black Bears have been seen recently. Other bears are being seen around the Jenny Lake and String Lake area.
  • Mountain Goats: Mountain goats are commonly seen along the steep slopes at the end of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction in the Winter. I most recent years, they were regularly seen in February and March, but not much past those months. If you are traveling through the region, it’d definitely be worth watching for them.
  • Bighorn Sheep: A small herd of native Bighorns are reported to live on the slopes near Mt. Moran, but they are out of sight for most GTNP visitors. The large herd of Bighorns that spend the Winter on Miller Butte move back to their summer slopes near Curtis Canyon and on up the Gros Ventre near Red Hills Ranch and beyond.
  • Foxes, Coyotes &  Badgers: Foxes have been seen near Colter Bay this year and are commonly seen around Wilson, WY. They tend to hang in developed areas, possibly to get a little protection from Coyotes. Coyotes roam much of the open areas of the park, but tend to keep their distance from wolves. Badgers can be found just about anywhere. I’ve seen them in the Gros Ventre campground, along Mormon Row, near the Kelly Warm Springs, and in the Elk Flats area.
  • River Otters: A few River Otters hang around the dam and along the Snake River in that region. Lots of people see them at Oxbow Bend and at the old Cattleman’s bridge site. I’ve seen them going up Pacific Creek and along the Buffalo Fork River. We’ve seen them while fishing the Snake River and up the Gros Ventre. They are occasionally seen along Flat Creek at the north edge of town. Keep in mind, they can travel many miles in a day, so finding them on a reliable basis is not an easy task.
  • Beavers: A few have been very active along the Moose-Wilson Road for the past few years. Watch for them around Schwabacher Landing and at the North end of Pacific Creek. Several of them have been working an area along the Gros Ventre river, too.
  • Eagles: Bald Eagle and Golden Eagles are fairly common in Jackson Hole. Getting good, close shots isn’t easy, however.
  • Hawks, Kestrels, and Falcons: I find the area near Kelly to be the best place to find the smaller raptors. Watch for them along the power lines running north and south near Kelly, and along sides of the road along Mormon Row.
  • Owls: As much as we all love to see and photograph owls, they don’t make it easy for us! GTNP and JH hosts a variety of species, but for the most part you just have to get lucky to see them in the summer. The Moose/Wilson Road is one of the better regions of the park to get a chance encounter with either a Great Gray Owl or a Great Horned Owl.
  • Swans, Ducks, and other Waterfowl: It is always worth stopping at the observation platform along Flat Creek on the north edge of town No telling what kind of animal or bird you will see there on any particular day. . Some can be seen in the South Park feed grounds and along the Snake River. Sept. 4 Update: I saw the family of 5 yesterday and again today along Flat Creek.
  • Birds: JH and GTNP are home to a very nice variety of birds. Wintering birds like Chickadees, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Ravens, Crows,  & Woodpeckers can be found without much problem. By mid March, migrating summer birds start filling the valley. Some of the most colorful birds include Bullock’s Orioles, Western Tanagers, Cedar Waxwings, Lazuli Buntings, Bluebirds, and several species of Grosbeaks. Check out the Moose-Wilson Road or along any of the lake shores and river bottoms. Meadowlarks and Long-billed Curlews can be seen along some of the dirt roads along Mormon Row and in the Kelly area. A few birds, like White-face Ibis pass through Jackson Hole, but don’t seem to be summer residents.
  • Trumpeter Swans
  • Trumpeter Swans along Flat Creek on September 13. The darker three are cygnets of the year.

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Sightings and Basic Zones For Most Animals in June, July & August:

Wildlife Reports for June, July and August will remain about the same until late Fall.

  • Elk: A few elk will linger on the National Elk Refuge, but most have left and are move north across the sage flats and along the river bottoms. Expect to see them early and late in the day. Few will have antlers at this time of the year.  Some disperse to the mountains and forests out of the park. Elk are still hunted in GTNP in the fall, so they are still spooky with people around. They tend to leave the cover and shelter of the forests at night and graze in the the open sage flats and grasslands, but will move back just before first light. If you want to see elk in GTNP, hike in to places few casual visitors go!
  • Moose: Most are now in the river bottoms where they will stay until winter. The best areas to look for them are along the Gros Ventre River and near Oxbow Bend, or among the willows where the Buffalo Fork meets the Snake River at Moran Junction. Most Bull Moose are sporting new velvet covered antlers.
  • Mule Deer: Herds of mule deer work the areas along the highway just north of Jackson in May. Many stay in the river bottoms up and down the Snake River and Gros Ventre River. The area around the town of Kelly is usually a good place to see them. Once the snow melts, they can be just about anywhere.
  • Pronghorns (sometimes called Antelope): Pronghorns can usually be seen along the Gros Ventre Road between the highway and Kelly, but also along Antelope Flats Road near Mormon Row. Another small herd can sometimes be seen near Timbered Island and Lupine Meadows on the Teton Park Road. Pronghorns are some of the last to drop their babies…sometimes into middle and late June.
  • Bison (sometimes called Buffalo): Seen often along the Gros Ventre Road, along Mormon Row, and Antelope Flats Road. Another group of them moves farther North and are often seen along the highway at Elk Flats. A few move close to the Snake River near Triangle X Ranch. Bison and Pronghorns are often the most dependable for viewing in GTNP. A few “red dogs” or babies were first seen on May 20. It appears there are numerous new bison babies this year.
  • Wolves: GTNP has quite a few packs of wolves, but they are seen much less hear than in Yellowstone. A few are seen on the south end of Blacktail Butte and one will occasionally cross Gros Ventre Road to get to the river bottom. Wolves roam the entire Snake River river bottom, but are difficult to see because of the limited access. Some are seen in the Willow Flats area near Jackson Lake Lodge. Another pack hangs around the Buffalo Fork region most of the year. Generally speaking, wolves follow the elk.
  • Grizzly Bears: During most of the Spring and Summer, the area around Oxbow Bend seems to attract and hold the most bears and give the most bear sightings. However, they are now roaming the entire valley—all the way down to the National Elk Refuge. A couple of them roam south along the base of the mountains and have been recently seen near the housing additions on the Teton Village Road. In 2014, several have been seen near the Moose visitors center area along with quite a few near Oxbow Bend and up Pacific Creek. 399 has two yearling cubs. 610 recently showed up with a single cub of the year (COY). Grizzly 760 is reported to now have a tracking collar. Try looking for them along Pacific Creek, Oxbow Bend, Cattleman’s Bridge, Willow Flats, The Jackson Lake Dam area, Pilgrim Creek Road, and towards Colter Bay. Just watch for a whole line of vehicles parked end to end along a road in that area, but be sure to stay 100 yards from the bear- whether you are outside your vehicle or still inside. They do not allow people to take photos from inside a sun roof or out the windows inside 100 yards. Rangers are handing out tickets this year!
  • Black Bears: For many years, black bear sightings were common around the Jackson Lake Dam, up Signal Mountain and near the Signal Mountain Campground. With Grizzlies roaming around, black bear sightings are much less frequent until fall when they start feeding on berries. The road down to Spaulding Bay was reopened in 2014 and a few Black Bears have been seen recently.
  • Mountain Goats: Mountain goats are commonly seen along the steep slopes at the end of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction in the Winter. I most recent years, they were regularly seen in February and March, but not much past those months. If you are traveling through the region, it’d definitely be worth watching for them. The Nannies have their “kids” in the Spring.
  • Bighorn Sheep: A small herd of native Bighorns are reported to live on the slopes near Mt. Moran, but they are out of sight for most GTNP visitors. The large herd of Bighorns that spend the Winter on Miller Butte move back to their summer slopes near Curtis Canyon and on up the Gros Ventre near Red Hills Ranch and beyond. Most roads up the GV are open after June 1st.
  • Foxes, Coyotes &  Badgers: Foxes have been seen near Colter Bay this year and are commonly seen around Wilson, WY. They tend to hang in developed areas, possibly to get a little protection from Coyotes. Coyotes roam much of the open areas of the park, but tend to keep their distance from wolves. Badgers can be found just about anywhere. I’ve seen them in the Gros Ventre campground, along Mormon Row, near the Kelly Warm Springs, and in the Elk Flats area.
  • River Otters: A few River Otters hang around the dam and along the Snake River in that region. Lots of people see them at Oxbow Bend and at the old Cattleman’s bridge site. I’ve seen them going up Pacific Creek and along the Buffalo Fork River. We’ve seen them while fishing the Snake River and up the Gros Ventre. They are occasionally seen along Flat Creek at the north edge of town. Keep in mind, they can travel many miles in a day, so finding them on a reliable basis is not an easy task.
  • Beavers: A few have been very active along the Moose-Wilson Road for the past few years. Watch for them around Schwabacher Landing and at the North end of Pacific Creek. Several of them have been working an area along the Gros Ventre river, too.
  • Eagles: Bald Eagle and Golden Eagles are fairly common in Jackson Hole. Getting good, close shots isn’t easy, however.
  • Hawks, Kestrels, and Falcons: I find the area near Kelly to be the best place to find the smaller raptors. Watch for them along the power lines running north and south near Kelly, and along sides of the road along Mormon Row.
  • Owls: As much as we all love to see and photograph owls, they don’t make it easy for us! GTNP and JH hosts a variety of species, but for the most part you just have to get lucky to see them in the summer. The Moose/Wilson Road is one of the better regions of the park to get a chance encounter with either a Great Gray Owl or a Great Horned Owl.
  • Swans, Ducks, and other Waterfowl: It is always worth stopping at the observation platform along Flat Creek on the north edge of town No telling what kind of animal or bird you will see there on any particular day. . Some can be seen in the South Park feed grounds and along the Snake River. I am hearing reports the Park will reopen Schwabacher Landing this year.
  • Birds: JH and GTNP are home to a very nice variety of birds. Wintering birds like Chickadees, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Ravens, Crows,  & Woodpeckers can be found without much problem. By mid March, migrating summer birds start filling the valley. Some of the most colorful birds include Bullock’s Orioles, Western Tanagers, Cedar Waxwings, Lazuli Buntings, Bluebirds, and several species of Grosbeaks. Check out the Moose-Wilson Road or along any of the lake shores and river bottoms. Meadowlarks and Long-billed Curlews can be seen along some of the dirt roads along Mormon Row and in the Kelly area. A few birds, like White-face Ibis pass through Jackson Hole, but don’t seem to be summer residents.

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Wildlife Reports for Mid-to-Late April:

  • National Elk Refuge Exodus: While it might be possible to see animals on the National Elk Refuge, most of them are leaving it and heading north or back into the high-country. This is especially true for the Elk. Many are seen around the Gros Ventre River, staging to head on North or West to the Snake River and the lowlands along the river.
  • Moose:  I have been seeing Moose along the Gros Ventre River bottom, around the Town of Wilson and in town. Most of the GV is clear of snow and they appear to be finding their summer feeding grounds.
  • Bighorn Sheep : The last time I drove out to the Elk Refuge, I didn’t see any Bighorns, nor have I heard much about them from others. After grazing Miller Butte all winter, they always seem to leave as soon as other areas begin to open.
  • Pronghorns: The 50 wintering Pronghorns are probably still around. I’d expect to see them grazing North of the Gros Ventre Road soon and will be joined by the herds coming North out of Pig Piney.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP. A few have been seen around the National Elk Refuge. They will be following the elk migration.
  • Bears: A few Grizzlies appeared on April 8th in the south end of the park. I’ve heard of a few tracks up north. Sows with C.O.Y. often show up later than the boars. I haven’t heard of Black Bear sightings yet.
  • Foxes and Coyotes: Foxes are seen fairly often around Wilson and occasionally near the Dam, Colter Bay, or up Pacific Creek Road. Coyotes roam the entire valley. In the Spring, both can be seen “mousing”. Also, watch for Badgers in the same areas this time of the year.
  • Mule Deer: Seen most often early in the morning around the small town of Kelly and along the butte running parallel to the National Elk Refuge. Be out early or late! I’ve been seeing a lot of them on High School Butte near the Maverik Convenience store.
  • Mountain Goats:  Mountain Goats at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. March was good, but you might still be able to see some in mid-April. As snow melts up high, they do not need to come to the road as often. On April 29, I received a report of 20-30 near the road at 9:00 am. Babies are born in “Spring”.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Red-tailed Hawks: Seen on fence posts and trees along the highway going North and also South of the town of Jackson. American Kestrels and Osprey have been sighted.
  • Waterfowl: Watch Golden Eyes, Trumpeter Swans, PinTails, Mallards, Mergansers, Buffleheads and Geese. Also, check out the Trumpeter Swans of Boyle’s Hill
  • Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers are still commonly seen in and around town.
  • Spring Migrating Birds: It seems each week in March brings a few more of the birds back to the valley. Dark-eyed and Oregon Juncos are now common. House Finches are showing up, along with large numbers of Pine Siskens. I saw my first Spotted Towhee in my back yard on March 19. American Goldfinches are returning. Large groups of Cassin’s Finches are at my feeders right now. At least the first wave of Bluebirds have arrived to JH now. It seems we should be seeing more Bluebirds? I saw my first Tree Swallow on April 19.
  • Road Reports and Winter Closures:  Not all areas are open. Check out the link to get a better idea of where you can to go in early April.

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Wildlife Reports for Early April:

  • National Elk Refuge Exodus: This is the time of the year the herds of Elk, Bison, Bighorns and Pronghorns will be leaving the Elk Refuge. The bison, elk, and pronghorns will start moving towards the north end of the refuge and huddle along the Gros Ventre River. On some mornings, you might find large herds grazing in the sage flats North of the Gros Ventre Road overnight, then move back into the Gros Ventre River bottom at first light. Wolves and Coyotes will be tagging along. Snow is still very deep north of Blacktail Butte, so don’t plan on seeing much in the way of big game north yet.
  • Moose:  Lately, I have been seeing Moose along the Gros Ventre River bottom, around the Town of Wilson and in town.
  • Bighorn Sheep : I haven’t been along the road on the Elk Refuge in a week or so. Loren Nelson reported seeing 60 Bighorns on the refuge on March 31, so they are apparently still hanging around!. Their coats are bleached out now. Update April 8: I did a quick loop to Miller Butte today. I didn’t see any Bighorns. All snow has melted off the Butte.
  • Pronghorns: Around 50 Pronghorns stayed in the valley and can occasionally be seen along the Elk Refuge Road. Others migrated south to the Big Piney area but should be showing up again later in the month.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP. A few have been seen around the National Elk Refuge.
  • Foxes and Coyotes: Foxes are seen fairly often around Wilson and occasionally near the Dam, Colter Bay, or up Pacific Creek Road. Coyotes roam the entire valley. In the Spring, both can be seen “mousing”. Also, watch for Badgers in the same areas this time of the year.
  • Mule Deer: Seen most often early in the morning around the small town of Kelly and along the butte running parallel to the National Elk Refuge. Be out early or late!
  • Mountain Goats:  Mountain Goats at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. March was good, but you should still be able to see some in early April.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Red-tailed Hawks: Seen on fence posts and trees along the highway going North and also South of the town of Jackson. American Kestrels and Osprey should be returning soon.
  • Bears: Update April 8 . Many are probably still hibernating, but many photographers are out looking for them now. On the 8th, I heard of two reliable sightings. One was at the Moose Visitors Center complex and the other was in the south portion of the park.
  • Waterfowl: When Flat Creek is open, watch for Golden Eyes, Trumpeter Swans, PinTails, Mallards, Mergansers, Buffleheads and Geese. Also, check out the Trumpeter Swans of Boyle’s Hill: Update: April 8: Most of the wild Trumpeter Swans appear to have left the Boyle’s Hill area now.
  • Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers are still commonly seen in and around town. The Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks have cleaned off most of the berry bushes in town and appear to have left the valley for now.
  • Spring Migrating Birds: It seems each week in March brings a few more of the birds back to the valley. Dark-eyed and Oregon Juncos are now common. House Finches are showing up, along with large numbers of Pine Siskens. I saw my first Spotted Towhee in my back yard on March 19. American Goldfinches are returning. At least the first wave of Bluebirds have arrived to JH now.
  • Road Reports and Winter Closures:  Not all areas are open. Check out the link to get a better idea of where you can to go in early April.

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Wildlife Reports for Late March:

  • Bison: Most are on the north end of the National Elk Refuge and difficult to view or photograph since roads to that area are closed in the Winter. Bison occasionally graze to the south in late winter or early spring.
  • Moose:  Most bull moose have lost their antlers by early February and will begin growing them again soon. Watch for moose along the Gros Ventre river bottom, in the sage Flats north of the JH Airport, and along the Snake River. Some cows move into town for the winter. Some are seen along Fish Creek in the small town of Wilson and along the road out to Teton Village.
  • Bighorn Sheep : 60-90 are wintering on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge. The rut is long over, but they often come off the Butte to feed near the road and lick salt from the road. Their coats are now much lighter than when they showed up last November.
  • Pronghorns: Around 50 Pronghorns stayed in the valley and can occasionally be seen along the Elk Refuge Road. Others migrated south to the Big Piney area.
  • Elk : Roughly 8,000 Elk are on the National Elk Refuge. Bulls will begin losing their antlers soon. With snow melting, some will begin to move off the refuge.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP. A few have been seen around the National Elk Refuge.
  • Foxes and Coyotes: Foxes are seen fairly often around Wilson and occasionally near the Dam, Colter Bay, or up Pacific Creek Road. Coyotes roam the entire valley. In the Spring, both can be seen “mousing”. Also, watch for Badgers in the same areas this time of the year.
  • Mule Deer: Seen most often early in the morning around the small town of Kelly and along the butte running parallel to the National Elk Refuge. Be out early or late!
  • Mountain Goats:  Mountain Goats at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. March seems to be a better month this year for the Goats.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Ruff-legged Hawks &  Red-tailed Hawks: Seen on fence posts and trees along the highway going North and also South of the town of Jackson. American Kestrels and Osprey should be returning soon.
  • River Otters have been sighted on occasions at Oxbow Bend.
  • Bears are hibernating, but many photographers are out looking for them now.
  • Waterfowl: When Flat Creek is open, watch for Golden Eyes, Trumpeter Swans, PinTails, Mallards, Mergansers, Buffleheads and Geese. If it is frozen, check out the Trumpeter Swans of Boyle’s Hill:Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Cedar Waxwings, & Steller’s Jays, can be seen in JH fairly often. Cedar Waxwings, Bohemian Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks have been systematically cleaning off the berry bushes and trees in the Town of Jackson. Robins and Ravens are also eating the berries. I haven’t seen the big flocks in a while, however.
  • Spring Migrating Birds: It seems each week in March brings a few more of the birds back to the valley. Dark-eyed and Oregon Juncos are now common. House Finches are showing up, along with large numbers of Pine Siskens. I saw my first Spotted Towhee in my back yard on March 19.
  • Road Reports and Winter Closures:  Not all areas are open. Check out the link to get a better idea of where you can to go in late March.

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Wildlife Reports for Early March:

Note: Activity is often different during the first half of a month than the last. I moved the early version to the bottom of the page and created a different one near the top.

  • Bison: Most are now on the north end of the National Elk Refuge and difficult to view or photograph. Roads to that area are closed in the Winter.
  • Moose:  Most bull moose have lost their antlers by early February and will begin growing them again soon. One of the smaller bulls still have them as of February 27, seen last near the Shane Cabin. Watch for moose along the Gros Ventre river bottom, in the sage Flats north of the JH Airport, and along the Snake River. Some cows move into town for the winter. Some are seen along Fish Creek in the small town of Wilson.
  • Bighorn Sheep : 60-90 are wintering on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge. The rut is long over, but they often come off the Butte to feed near the road and lick salt from the road.
  • Pronghorns: Pronghorns appear to have migrated out of the valley for the Winter. Most of them winter near Big Piney, WY, however a couple have been spotted on the National Elk Refuge in February.
  • Elk : Roughly 8,000 Elk are on the National Elk Refuge. Consider taking the Sleigh Ride into the herds.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP, but I seldom see more than tracks. Generally, they are close behind the prey animals like elk and deer. I’ve heard numerous reports of them hanging around the edges of the National Elk Refuge and around the Kelly Warm Springs area. Coyotes are also in the same areas.
  • Mule Deer: Seen most often early in the morning around the small town of Kelly and along the butte running parallel to the National Elk Refuge. Be out early or late!
  • Mountain Goats:  Mountain Goats at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. By late February, Goats have been seen fairly often near the road, but not quite as dependable as in previous years. I’d expect them to be active near the roads through at least the first half of March.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Ruff-legged Hawks: Common this year, seen on the fence posts along the Elk Refuge and along fence posts south of town.
  • Red-tailed Hawks: I saw a Red-tailed Hawk in Rafter J Ranch (south of town on Feb. 28). I don’t know if he recently returned or if he wintered in the valley.
  • River Otters have been sighted on occasions at Oxbow Bend.
  • Bears are hibernating.
  • Waterfowl: Flat Creek was frozen during much of January. With recent warm weather, much of it opened back up, but can freeze again if temperatures drop low enough overnight. When the Flat Creek is open, watch for Golden Eyes, Trumpeter Swans, PinTails, Mallards, Mergansers, Buffleheads and Geese. If it is frozen, check out the Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill.
  • Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Cedar Waxwings, & Steller’s Jays, can be seen in JH fairly often. Cedar Waxwings have been seen feeding on berry bushes in town this year. March 7, I heard a report of the first Bluebirds in the Valley. March 8, I saw my first flock of Bohemian Waxwings.
  • Road Reports and Winter Closures:  Not all areas are open.

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Wildlife Reports for February:

Bison: A few Bison are hanging around north of Kelly, but most are now on the north end of the National Elk Refuge. Roads to that area are closed in the Winter.

  • Moose:  Most bull moose have lost their antlers by early February and will begin growing them again soon. Some of the smaller bulls still have them as of February 1. Watch for moose along the Gros Ventre river bottom, in the sage Flats north of the JH Airport, and along the Snake River. Some cows move into town for the winter. Some are seen along Fish Creek in the small town of Wilson.
  • Bighorn Sheep : 60-90 are wintering on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge. Best viewed between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm. For some reason, the Sheep have been staying high on the ridges instead of grazing near the roads. I’ve heard of wolves being seen on the refuge, including parts of Miller Butte.
  • Pronghorns: All of the area Pronghorns appear to have migrated out of the valley for the Winter. Most of them winter near Big Piney, WY.
  • Elk : UPDATED FEB 12: Thousands of Elk are on the National Elk Refuge. Consider taking the Sleigh Ride into the herds. Recent snows are likely pushing more of them to the refuge. The Refuge should be feeding the elk by now.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP, but I seldom see more than tracks. Generally, they are close behind the prey animals like elk and deer. I’ve heard numerous reports of them hanging around the edges of the National Elk Refuge and around the Kelly Warm Springs area. Coyotes are also in the same areas.
  • Mule Deer: Seen most often early in the morning around the small town of Kelly and along the butte running parallel to the National Elk Refuge. Be out early!
  • Mountain Goats: UPDATED FEB 11February is usually a good month to see Mountain Goats at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. So far this February, sightings have been much less frequent for some reason.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Ruff-legged Hawks: Common this year, seen on the fence posts along the Elk Refuge and along fence posts south of town.
  • River Otters have been sighted on occasions at Oxbow Bend.
  • Bears are hibernating.
  • Waterfowl: UPDATED FEB 17: Flat Creek was frozen during much of January. With recent warm weather, much of it opened back up, but can freeze again if temperatures drop low enough overnight. When the creek is open, watch for Golden Eyes, Swans, PinTails, and Geese. If it is frozen, check out the Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill.
  • Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Cedar Waxwings, & Steller’s Jays, can be seen in JH fairly often. I’ve seen a Pygmy Owl twice this year. Cedar Waxwings were in town for a few weeks, but I haven’t been able to find them lately.
  • Road Reports and Winter Closures:  Not all areas are open. Check out the link to get a better idea of where to go in January.

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Wildlife Reports for January:

  • Bison (updated 1-18): 50-75+/- Bison are hanging around north of Kelly. The newspaper reports 234 bison killed in this year’s hunt on the National Elk Refuge. The hunt is now over and the rest will probably move onto the refuge for the winter months.
  • Moose (updated 1-18):  A few are still found near Ditch Creek and Ditch Creek Road. I keep hearing about a nice bull with his antlers hanging around the Shane cabin area. It appears many of the moose have moved West towards the Snake and are hanging around North of the JH Airport. I counted 14 moose on January 18th in that area. Many bulls are dropping their antlers. Moose bed down by about 9:00 to 9:30 am at this time so be out early if you want to find them.
  • Bighorn Sheep (updated 1-18): 60-90 are wintering on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge. They are on the tail end of the rut, but you might still see some rut behavior. Best viewed between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm. For some reason, the Sheep have been staying high on the ridges instead of grazing near the roads. I’ve heard of wolves being seen on the refuge.
  • Pronghorns: A herd of about 25 hung around the valley longer than normal this year, but appear to have migrated out of the valley for the Winter.
  • Elk : Thousands of Elk are already on the National Elk Refuge. Consider taking the Sleigh Ride into the herds. Many more elk a clustered north of the Gros Ventre River between the town of Kelly in the east and the Snake River in the west.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP, but I seldom see more than tracks. Generally, they are close behind the prey animals like elk and deer. I’ve heard numerous reports of them hanging around the edges of the National Elk Refuge and around the Kelly Warm Springs area. Coyotes are also in the same areas.
  • Mule Deer: Seen most often early in the morning around the small town of Kelly. Be out early!
  • Mountain Goats: (updated 1-24) Seen “regularly” at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. Best viewed mid-morning through around 3:00 pm. Warm weather may be melting snow up high and reducing the need to come down to the road for exposed grass.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Ruff-legged Hawks: Common this year, seen on the fence posts along the Elk Refuge.
  • River Otters have been sighted on occasions at Oxbow Bend.
  • Bears are hibernating.
  • Waterfowl: Flat Creek is frozen solid forcing waterfowl into other parts of the region or sending them along their migration paths. Check out the Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill.
  • Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Cedar Waxwings, & Steller’s Jays, can be seen in JH fairly often. I’ve seen a Pygmy Owl twice this year.
  • Road Reports and Winter Closures:  Not all areas are open. Check out the link to get a better idea of where to go in January.

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Wildlife Reports for December:

  • Bison: 200+/- Bison are hanging around north of Kelly.
  • Moose:  Seen regularly near Ditch Creek and Ditch Creek Road. 20-30 can be seen on occasions. Some bulls are dropping their antlers. Moose bed down by about 9:00 to 9:30 am at this time.
  • Bighorn Sheep: 60-90 are wintering on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge. They are currently in the rut. Best viewed between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm.
  • Pronghorns: Were seen fairly often along the Gros Ventre Road and in the Kelly area, but may have migrated out of the valley now? I haven’t seen them in a while.
  • Elk : Migrating in large numbers to the National Elk Refuge from many zones. Hunting is now closed in GTNP (except some areas along the Parkway). Better be out very early to see them except on the Refuge.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP, but I seldom see more than tracks. Generally, they are close behind the prey animals like elk and deer.
  • Mule Deer: Seen occasionally along the GV river, near the Golf and Tennis Club, and along the highway across from the Elk Refuge. Be out early!
  • Mountain Goats: Seen regularly at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. Best viewed mid-morning through around 3:00 pm.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Ruff-legged Hawks: Common this year, seen on the fence posts along the Elk Refuge.
  • River Otters have been sighted on occasions at Oxbow Bend.
  • Bears are hibernating.
  • Waterfowl: Flat Creek is frozen solid forcing waterfowl into other parts of the region or sending them along their migration paths. Check out the Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill.
  • Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers, & Steller’s Jays, can be seen in JH fairly often.

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Comments (2)

  1. Thanks for the June update. I remember a few years ago how exciting it was to see the owls at the heart sharped hole. Although, spotting the great gray on Moose Wilson has always been my highlight.

  2. Thanks for finally writing about >

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