Wildlife Crossing In Grand Teton National Park

“Pay Attention:  Wildlife On Road!” 

 This sign greets all visitors to Grand Teton National Park, but let me be the first to tell you it is absolutely true!  You never know when you will have something or a herd of “somethings” dash in front of your car… and let’s just say some of the animals in this park will take on a truck and win!

Let’s just take a quick look at a few of the animals I have had cross my path since arriving her in May!

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A relatively large elk…

Now this buckaroo, decided to mosey across the road right in front of our car.   We were lucky we saw it in time because he would have caused a lot of damage!

 

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A Bison…

This guy really doesn’t seem to care who is on the road…but I recommend staying far away from him as they can run up to 30 mph without warning!  In this case, I guess he decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the road!

 

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A Moose….

As we came around the bend in the road, she was right in sight.  Luckily she was just beginning the cross and quickly headed into the brush so other cars wouldn’t be surprised by her!

 

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A Grizzly Bear….

This guy is definitely the king of our forest.  So when he crosses your path, you definitely want to stop!

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A Car Jam!

I’d say the most dangerous road hazard in Grand Teton National Park can be the other drivers, so pull to the side of the road if to stay clear of other Park visitors if you do see something of interest!  Most speedlimits within the park are 45 mph, that’s to help avoid an encounter with an animal.  We know there is a lot of open road, but the wildlife is abundant as well, and staying safe is everyone’s top priority!   Keep your eyes open because you never know when a bear, moose, elk or bison jam is going to sneak up on you!  

 

From Melissa’s Corner!

Kids Appreciate Grand Teton National Park

Each year the National Park Foundation sponsors the Junior Ranger Essay Contest.   The focus is to ask kids their ideas about how to protect and preserve the national parks. 

In 2009, the essay contest question was “Why are our national parks important to you and what is your best idea to protect our parks for the future?”

Grand Teton Lodge Company was please to learn that the 2nd place winner this year was an essay contributed by Jason Roy Maki of  Marysville, Wa.  Jason’s essay focused on treasured memories of time in Grand Teton National Park.  Below you will find the essay he contributed.

jason-maki_npfwinnerWay to go Jason!  We hope you continue to enjoy and promote our national parks…and return to Grand Teton National Park very soon.

“When I see or even think about a national park, it is like no other feeling I’ve ever had. A national park is like a special cabinet that contains memories that are filled with truly special natural treasures. When you see a picture of a national park on post card, on TV or in a movie, you will probably say, “Wow! That is beautiful!” But actually being at a national park and seeing it in person is even more wonderful and breathtaking. When you go to the zoo and see an animal up close it is very interesting. But imagine that same thrill in the wild – in an animal’s habitat. Habitat is the natural place where an animal lives — like the forest, the meadows, the lakes and ponds, the rivers, mountains, valleys and the prairie.

I love Grand Teton National Park the best. When I visit, I always see elk, deer, black bear, grizzlies, moose, bison, wolves, bald eagles, and more. I’ve seen an eagle and an osprey fighting over a fish. I’ve seen a little baby moose with its mother at the edge of the Snake River. I’ve seen a pair of grizzly cubs wandering out in the middle of a green meadow with their mother close by. And I’ve even seen a rare black wolf running across a snow field. But not all things are exactly what I’d call peaceful. I’ve watched a huge bison lit up against the night sky when lightning struck the mountains. I went swimming with my cousins and came out of a beautiful lake covered in leeches! Ahhhhh! I was even surprised by a black bear ten feet away when I walked around a pickup truck! Even though I’ve had a few scary experiences, it should never stop you from visiting a national park.

National parks are fun places to learn about things that you could never experience anywhere else. That’s why we have to take care of them. We have to follow all national park rules. They are more than just rules. They are choices we make to help our parks survive forever. Don’t litter a park. Don’t feed the animals because they forget how to feed naturally. Make sure campfires are dead out with water. Forest fires are caused every year by careless campers who do not put their fires out. I would like to propose a contest where school kids everywhere come up with a few things to protect and preserve our national parks. We could have a reading program where school kids read about a neat national park. Then they could maybe visit one for themselves some day. I know they will enjoy every moment. That I can promise.

We the people own the national parks. They are ours. That is why we need to protect our parks and preserve them forever.”

Source:  National Park Foundation website

New Life in the Park

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Spring fever is raising temperatures and melting the snow in Grand Teton National Park. The season is in full swing, as new life joins us in the Park. Herds are beginning their migration from lower winter feeding grounds to higher summer grounds and females are beginning to give birth, providing the opportunity to observe and study Mother Nature at her finest. 

Below is a breakdown for understanding the process of life for some of our larger mammal populations in the Park:

 
Moose:

As the male moose emits a deep, grunting call, his rutting season begins in September and extends into October.  Bulls guard their right to mate through intimidation and fights.  Around mid-May to early June, one or two calves are born to the cows and will remain close, weaned in winter or the following spring.

Bison:

Showing dominance through bellowing, wallowing, and fighting, bull bison mate in late July and August.  During rut, one bull will remain with one female until she is ready to mate.  One calf will be born in late April and May and may be suckled through its second winter.  Calves are able to keep up with the herd soon after birth.

Elk:

The cool fall air from August to mid-October echoes with the bugling of mature bull elk, signaling their rut season.  Bulls equipped with mature antlers, guard their opportunity to mate with their harem through aggressive intimidation and fights.  One calf will be born the following spring from May to June, and weaned in 4-5 weeks.

Grizzly Bear:

Usually having several partners, the male grizzly (boar) will mate from May to early June.  Mother Nature delays the implantation of the embryo to assure the female (sow) to reach the den and assure chances for a successful birth.  Entering the den beginning in mid-October, normally, one to three cubs will be born between January and February, during hibernation.  Female and cubs generally emerge from the den beginning in April.  A mature female will usually breed every three years after chasing off the previous young, to protect them from attacks from the mating boar. 

Black Bear:

Usually having several partners, the male black bear (boar) will mate from May to early June.  Mother Nature delays the implantation of the embryo to assure the females chances for a successful birth.  Entering the den beginning in November, normally, one to three cubs will be born between January and February, during hibernation.  Female and cubs generally emerge from the den beginning in March.  The cubs normally winter with their mother and are weaned the following September.  A mature female will usually breed in alternate years. 

Each morning, I peer through the windows of the upper lobby of Jackson Lake Lodge to observe the expanse of nature surrounding us. Not far from where I stand, elk and moose cows are migrating to Willow Flats to give spring birth.  What a fulfilling sight to experience Mother Nature’s wonder.  As these populations assemble, so do others.  We are beginning to observe the gathering of wolves and grizzly bears. Spring calves provide an ample food source for predators and this season will be no different.  By visiting, you are experiencing part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact temperate-zone ecosystems on Earth today.  We invite you to come and witness this spectacle for yourself.

 

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Seeking a great resource on information about the seasonal timeline of our Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which encompasses Grand Teton National Park? “For Everything There Is A Season,” by Dr. Frank C. Craighead, Jr., Ph.D., provides a wonderful outline of what a year entails here.

 
Posted from Don’s Corner ~ GTLC Interpretive Specialist

Grizzlies Awaken in Grand Teton National Park

Grizzly at Oxbow Bend
Grizzly at Oxbow Bend

 

I have seen a Grizzly before. Animal Planet and PBS have shown me the 350-1500 pound omnivores roaming along rivers, coastal areas, mountain meadows and in the tundra on my television screen. PBS warned me that if I encounter the bear, one of North America’s largest land mammals, to keep in mind some of the following tips:

 

 If you encounter a grizzly, do not run.
Avoid direct eye contact.

If the animal makes contact, curl up into a ball on your side, or lie flat on your stomach.

Try not to panic; remain as quiet as possible. 

 

I begin my first day with Grand Teton Lodge Company with this advice in my mind, as the Grand Teton National Park is home to several Grizzlies. One female in particular, known by her tag number “399,” gave birth to triplet cubs in late winter of 2007 that now wander the Park.

Pat Hattaway, Grand Teton National Park’s North District Ranger, explained, “399 raised her cubs near humans. While other bears tend to go high, she remained low, so the bears are seen near the road.”

It isn’t long into my first day at the office before one of 399’s cubs meanders near the road at Oxbow Bend. A few hours as Digital Media Manager and I am already on a bear escapade.

Camera in hand, a co-worker and I hop in a car and cruise the road in search of the cub. A few miles away, we encounter the flashing lights of a National Park Ranger’s vehicle. He has set a perimeter for the bear’s safety.

Sure enough, the Grizzly is hanging out about five yards from the road. The tips of his fur glow with a frosty silver hue, providing a “grizzled” look (which is how the bear gets its name). His long, curled claws dig into the snow patched ground in search of food beneath the surface. At one moment he turns his head towards the car as if to say, “I know I’m a good looking guy, but enough already.”

Rain begins to drop from a dark gray sky and we decide it’s best to head back to Jackson Lake Lodge. I have seen a Grizzly and now one’s seen me.

 

An Afternoon Stroll
An Afternoon Stroll