All posts by Mark Bolen

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

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 the 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


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


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


Want to see a Bighorn Sheep up-close and live?

Bighorn Sheep will arrive near the town of Jackson, WY at any time now.

The herd of around 100 plus animals migrate from an area just north of Jackson and will soon be just 10 minutes outside of town.

Their winter migration takes them from an area about 15 miles north of Jackson and outside Grand Teton National Park. They will be here until about April (snow dependent). Beautiful wildlife to see, especially up-close and frequently! After spending the winter months here, they will return to their summer range north of town.

#Private Scenic and Wildlife Tours Grand Teton National Park. #Private Photography Tours Grand Teton National Park, #Wildlife Tours Jackson, WY

So, What are elk doing around Jackson, WY right now?

Elk are now in the midst of their mating season. Bulls have established their “harems” of cows and will mate as soon as the females are receptive.

Soon elk will begin their annual migration from areas north of Jackson, WY towards the National Elk Refuge which abuts the town of Jackson.

Some elk will travel 40-50 miles to reach the Refuge. Most will not travel that far.

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

Wouldn’t you like to see these beautiful birds up close?

Trumpeter Swans are the largest and some of the most majestic of all native North American waterfowl. Adults stand at 4 ft, have a wingspan of 7 ft and can weigh up to 35 lbs.

Very soon, cygnets (this year’s newborn) will be hatched and grow big enough to fly by the end of summer.  Males are referred to as “cobs”, females “pens”. Cygnets stay with their parents for 1 summer after which they will establish new/shared territories.  Parents are mates for life and live on average 25 years. 

These are truly a spectacular species to observe in the Yellowstone Ecosystem!!

#Grand Teton National Park  #Yellowstone National Park  #Private Tours in YS and GTNP  #Photography Tours  #Eco Tours  

Things that might interest you about Grand Teton National Park!

Grand Teton National Park was officially formed in 1950. Prior to then, beginning in 1926, it was known as Grand Teton National Monument. As a National Monument, this area was limited to the Teton Range and a few of its moraine lakes. The subsequent designation as a National Park expanded the Park boundaries to its current size of 310,000 acres.

Grand Teton is unique in several ways:

-Only National Park with an airport inside boundary

-Domestic animals allowed

-Private land ownership allowed (grandfathered only)

-Timber cutting  (limited)

In and near the Park, visitors can witness magnificent views of the spectacular Teton Range (including its highest peak Grand Teton at 13,776 ft), wildflowers and MANY species of wildlife. The park is home to abundant wildlife which can be seen daily. These include elk, moose, mule deer, bison, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, bears (black and grizzly), mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, fox, beaver, otters, eagles (bald and golden), multiple species of songbirds birds and waterfowl as well as many different types of wildflowers.

Visitors can also see its pristine lakes, Snake River and spectacular geologic formations, visitor centers and many hiking trails. Rafting adventures, fishing, horseback riding and dude ranch opportunities are also available. From the town of Jackson, one can be within GTNP in 10 minutes.

There are also 11 active glaciers in GTNP!

#Grand Teton National Park  # Teton Wild  #Jackson Hole  #ThatsWY #Private Tours Jackson, WY  #Photography Tours Jackson, WY  #Ecotours Jackson, WY  #Wildlife Tours Jackson, WY

What are Bighorn Sheep doing in Jackson, WY now?

What are Bighorn Sheep doing aroundJackson, WY right now?

Specifically, they will soon migrate within Grand Teton National Park. Their migration from the Jackson Hole Valley should begin in only a few weeks. The ones right around Jackson will move only a few miles north (15-20 miles) in late April and then return late next fall for the winter,

Bighorn sheep have horns as opposed to antlers. Horns remain on an animal’s body for life (bison, pronghorn and sheep). In contrast, antlers are grown and shed each year (moose, elk, whitetail and mule deer).

Interestingly, both species have a penchant for salt. Although salt is not used for road maintenance here, these animals are sometimes seen in the middle of a road pawing at the ice/snow to release these tasty salt fragments from a road surface. In fact, I’ve seen mobile signs directing the public not to let these animals lick a vehicle…for safety and/or fear of disease transmission..

Moreover, here in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, these animals are an integral part of the overall ecosystem and deserve special consideration and respect when seen in close proximity.

Come see these and other magnificent animals on a private tour
with Teton Wild.
Mark Bolen
Owner-Teton Wild

#Teton Wild Custom Wildlife Tours #Grand Teton National Park #Photography Tours Grand Teton National Park #Eco Tours Grand Teton National Park

Where can I see wild Bison?

What animal most frequently comes to mind to people when they think of “WILD”?

Bison are one of the most recognizable, iconic figures of the American West.

During the late 1800’s, they numbered in the millions.  Now, around Jackson, WY there are about 500.  In Yellowstone National Park, there are about 5,000 animals.  Both groups can be seen fairly easily.  Elsewhere in western North America and Canada, there are some “wild” populations, but few that are truly wild (unfenced) like those in Jackson and Yellowstone.  The Yellowstone herd is genetically pure.  The Jackson herd is not and are descendants of about a dozen bison which escaped from a ranch  near Moran, WY back in the 1960’s.

Bison are herd animals and therefore travel in groups. They are grazers and feed on native grasses. An adult bull can weigh 2,200 lbs and run 35 miles an  hour.  Their body structure makes things more easy than for other animals when trying to find grasses buried under feet of snow.  Specificly, their neck and shoulders are massive, allowing them to remove snow with their heads from the grasses they seek below. Bison normally have 1 calf in spring, which can weigh 40 lbs at birth. It is said and written that a Bison can jump a 6 ft fence.  I’ve only seen them jump a 4 ft fence. Regardless, they are large animals that can be very athletic.

Here around Jackson, the local herd does not “migrate”, but they do move around.  Primarily, from the area right around town to an area about 30 miles north (within Grand Teton National Park).  In contrast, a portion of the bison in Yellowstone herd does “migrate” north onto private ranch lands in late winter.
There, the concern amongst ranchers is that Bison may transmit Brucellosis to the cattle/sheep. Special winter hunting seasons have been allowed to Native American Groups as well as ranchers.

Though slow and unintelligent looking, Bison are an iconic and beautiful wild animal to see up close.

Let Teton Wild Custom Wildlife Tours give your group an up close view and information about these and other animals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
#Teton Wild #Grand Teton National Park #Yellowstone National Park #Jackson Hole Wildlife Tours #Private Wildlife Tours Jackson, WY