Do You Know Which Feline is the 2nd Largest in the Americas?

That’s right.  It’s called mountain lion, cougar, wildcat, panther, or puma – depending on local terminology.  Although they are not an endangered species,  mountain lions are rarely seen here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

They range throughout much of the mountain west, Canada and South America.  The western mountain lion can weigh up to 200 pounds, with a massive set of front and rear legs and claws.  Their bodies stretch up to 9 feet from nose to tail tip.  They mate in spring, and kittens will stay with their mother for up to two years, at which time mom will have taught them how to hunt and survive the harsh Wyoming climate.

From there, the mother will then start a new family.  Given the family obligations, a female can have a territory covering 10 square miles or more.  Males cover a much larger territory, up to 30 square miles here in Wyoming.

These cats are generally reclusive, and highly adaptable to human activity.  They probably see us much more than we see them!  Mountain lions prey primarily on ungulates (moose, elk, deer, bison, and sheep), but will prey upon rodents as well.

Around Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2018, there were 4 confirmed sightings of a mother cat and her kits feeding on an elk in the National Elk Refuge.  There was also a mountain lion feeding on a vehicle-killed mule deer right across the street from a popular grocery store!  The Elk Refuge sighting is one of natural cat / predator behavior.  The other is not, as mountain lions generally only consume what they capture.

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Teton Wild Custom Wildlife Tours
Specializing in Private, Custom Tours in Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

Mark Bolen, Owner / Guide
https://tetonwild.com
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What Are Elk Doing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming Right Now?

Elk are now in the midst of their mating season.  Bulls (males) have now established their “harems” of cows (females) and will mate as soon as the females are receptive.  A harem may consist of up to 25 females, which are “managed” by the bull.

Very soon, elk will begin their amazing annual migration from areas north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  It’s their age-old, natural migration pattern towards the National Elk Refuge, which abuts the town of Jackson.  Prior to the development of Jackson Hole, these animals migrated even further south of Jackson.

Some elk will travel 20-50 miles to reach the Refuge.  But, most will not travel as far.

Once the elk arrive at the National Elk Refuge, their numbers can reach as many as 10,000!  They can be easily seen on a daily basis in Jackson during winter.  They generally arrive on the Refuge in December, and return to their summer range (north) in April.

During mating, a bull elk may lose 20% of its body weight due to physical stress from constantly fighting off rival elk.  Later in winter, they may lose even more body mass due to hypothermia, or natural graze they can’t reach due to snow accumulation.  And, imagine… A bull elk can weigh over 900 pounds before losing this body weight!

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Teton Wild Custom Wildlife Tours
Specializing in Private, Custom Tours in Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

Mark Bolen, Owner / Guide
https://tetonwild.com
https://www.facebook.com/tetonwild
http://bit.ly/tadvisor-reviews

 

Are North American Bald Eagles Actually “Bald?”

No! This descriptive term derives from the visual perceived by many observers.  They are actually “white headed” due to the white feathers on their heads!  Bald eagles inhabit almost every state here in the United States.  They feed on fish in the summer months, and carrion in the winter.  Thusly, they are both predators AND scavengers.
They build the largest nests of any North American birds, up to 13 feet deep and 8 feet wide.  After 3-4 years, these eagles reach sexual maturity.  At this point, their feathers turn white at the head and tail.  Their life expectancy in the wild is 20 years and their wingspan can reach over 6 feet.  The average weight is about 10 pounds, with females weighing 25% MORE than males!
Bald Eagles are currently “protected,” but not endangered.  They are among the most magnificent and majestic of all birds here in the United States… After all, they are depicted on the currency used in the U.S. for a reason!

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Teton Wild Custom Wildlife Tours
Specializing in Private, Custom Tours in Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

Mark Bolen, Owner / Guide
https://tetonwild.com
https://www.facebook.com/tetonwild
http://bit.ly/tadvisor-reviews

 

Ermine… Small Weasel or Veracious Predator?

Ermine are one of the smallest members of the weasel family, averaging between 8″ and 12″ in length.  However, their physical size and weight (less than 1 pound) should not be mistaken for their ability to take down their prey.  They are carnivores and can take down a full grown rabbit!

They are native to the northern climate, here in North America and Europe.  We see them infrequently in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – because they blend in with the landscape.  This critter’s fur is light brown and white in summer; and ALL white in winter… except for the tail, which is black-tipped all year.

An interesting fact:  During the reign of Edward III (1327–77) of England, the wearing of ermine was restricted to members of the royal family only. State robes were constructed in such a way that the rank and position of the wearer could be determined by the presence / absence / disposition of the black spots. (Now, artificial fur is used in the UK.)

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Teton Wild Custom Wildlife Tours
Specializing in Private, Custom Tours in Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

Mark Bolen, Owner / Guide
https://tetonwild.com
https://www.facebook.com/tetonwild
http://bit.ly/tadvisor-reviews