The diverse and abundant wildlife of Yellowstone National Park is just as famous as its mesmerizing geysers. There are as many as 300 species of birds in the park, you may also spot 16 different species of fish, 5 species of amphibians, 67 mammal species, and 6 reptile species. In total, it is believed that the national park is home to more than 200 species of animals – from bald eagles to grizzly bears, black bears, bison, wolves, and elks.
Bison: Yellowstone National Park boasts the presence of the largest free-ranging population of wild bison in North America. Today, it is estimated that the population is above 4,700 after it had dwindled to as low as 24 at the turn of the 20th century.
While the bison calves appear to be pup-like and playful, adult bison are capable of weighing up to 2,425 lbs while reaching a top speed of 35 mph. Visitors are expected to maintain a safe distance of around 25 yards. It is because adults are mostly unpredictable and dangerous.
Bears: Yellowstone is home to both black and grizzly bears. Bears are omnivorous and roam in search for food. They are closely monitored by the park to ensure both their and the visitors’ safety. As per the regulations of the national park, it is recommended that visitors should be at a minimum of 100 yards from the bears.
Mountain Lions: You can observe a small population of mountain lions prowling across the Yellowstone. Also referred to as panthers and cougars, mountain lions in the park usually live at higher elevations. They tend to be elusive and it is increasingly difficult to spot them.
Gray Wolves: Wolves were once highly feared predators of the park; however, they were hunted to near extinction from the area by the 1970s. From the period of 1995 to 1996, around 31 gray wolves were reintroduced to the park. Today, there are more than 400 wolves across the Yellowstone region.
Deer Family: Mule deer, elk, and moose roam around the park. They are herbivores and feed on bark, leaves, and grass. The interesting sounds of the males in search of the perfect mate are clearly heard in several parts of the park -especially during the fall months.
The vegetation communities of the park feature overlapping combinations of different plant species. The flora here is typical to the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains along with the Intermountain Region to its west. Yellowstone is home to 3 endemic plant species depending on the natural habitat of the park -owing to its thermal features. Most vegetation and flora management in the park is primarily focused on minimizing human-centric damage to native plant communities.
Some of the different types of vegetation communities in the park ranging from lower and higher elevation forests and understory vegetation are: