Yellowstone was originally created to conserve the beauty and rarity of the Geothermal features in this area. HOwever, over time they have also realized that they are also conserving the wildness of this area.
And one of the benefits of wildness is the abundence of wildlife found everywhere.
Coming into Yellowstone from the North Entrance, one of the first things you might notice about Mammoth Hotsprings is the Elk Population.
In that they are everywhere.
In fact, the most plentiful animal in the park are the elk. I heard that there are numbers close to 12,000 in regards to population wise. With the reintroduction of the wolves, those numbers are starting to go down a little bit, but the elk do have quite a run of the park.
The animal most people come to Yellowstone to see are bears however. I've seen quite a few myself. Mainly Black Bears, as they are quite plentiful in the Tower Roosevelt area.
This guy came up to our corrals and was digging around for grubs right by the horses. The horses weren't to upset about the presence of the bear, in fact he mostly was minding his own business.
I have noticed that the black bears are kind of cute. I did get the chance to see another one up close as he crossed the street in front of my car.
When people stop to see bears, we call them Bear Jams, as they cause a small traffic jam when they come near the road ways. The rangers let the bears do what they want and try to manage the people so they don't do something foolish, like try to pet one.
And of course, last Saturday, I saw my first Grizzly. As soon as we came up to the road, I knew a Bear Jam when I saw one. Sure enough
THis is a young grizzly, apparently his mother died early, and he hasn't quite learned how to hunt. They say he's only two years old. They have frequent sightings of him over at Fishing Bridge area. Which is close to where we saw him.
We also have frequent Deer Sightings.
This is one of the first ones I saw. He was basically chilling by Roosevelt Lodge, his antlers weren't very big at the time. If I see some more of these guys, their antlers are pretty large now.
Some of the other factors of being in a wild area is seeing wildness at play, regardless of how small or mundane it is. We often see garter snakes about, they are actually pretty common. When we were at the Fountain Paintpots last weekend, we saw one in the process of eating a toad. Several people were surrounding it and watching it.
One guy commented that if there weren't as many people around, he would have rescued the toad from the snake. I wanted to slap the guy, considering A. This is Yellowstone and B. this was wildness at work. What do you think the snake normally eats? Why don't we go on a crusade and rescue all toads from the peril of being eaten by nasty snakes? So, what do the snakes do then?
*sighs* Some people don't think about things like this.
Of course, the animal that really has the run of the park is none other then the mighty bison.
Do keep your distance.