Yellowstone is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states. In addition to having a diversity of small animals, Yellowstone is notable for its predator–prey complex of large mammals, including eight ungulate species (bighorn sheep, bison, elk, moose, mountain goats, mule deer, pronghorn, and white-tailed deer) and seven large predators (black bears, Canada lynx, coyotes, grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolverines, and wolves).
The National Park Service’s goal is to maintain the ecological processes that sustain these mammals and their habitats while monitoring the changes taking place in their populations. Seasonal or migratory movements take many species across the park boundary where they are subject to different management policies and uses of land by humans.
Understanding the links between climate change and these drivers will be critical to informing the ecology and management of Yellowstone’s wildlife in the years to come.
Carnivores (Order Carnivora)
Carnivores all started out as meat-eaters, but many have evolved to be omnivores (consumers of plants and animals). Over a dozen carnivores can be found within the park.
Ungulates (Order Artiodactyla)
Ungulates are hooved herbivores (plant-eaters), and there are two types: even-toed and odd-toed. All of the native ungulates found in Yellowstone are even-toed, while there is one odd-toed ungulate you may see in the park: horses.
Learn about Yellowstone's Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Plan.
Rodents (Order Rodentia)
Rodents are a vital part of the ecosystems in Yellowstone, serving as a major food source for many of the park's predators. All rodents have a pair of incisors in their upper and lower jaws with a large gap between the incisors and the molars. The incisors continue to grow throughout their lives, so they continually wear them down through chewing.
Hares, Rabbits, and Pika (Order Lagomorpha)
These mammals are similar to rodents, except that they only eat plants and have four incisors in their upper jaws.
Bats (Order Chiroptera)
The only mammals that can fly, there are 13 species that call the park home.
Curlee, A.P. et al., eds. 2000. Greater Yellowstone predators: ecology and conservation in a changing landscape. Proceedings of the Third Biennial Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jackson, WY: Northern Rockies Conservation Coop.
Feldhamer, G.A., B.C. Thompson, and J.A. Chapman, eds. 2003. Wild mammals of North America: Biology, management, and conservation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Garrott, R. et al., editors. 2009. The ecology of large mammals in Central Yellowstone. San Diego: Academic Press.
Ruth, T. et al. 2003. Large carnivore response to recreational big-game hunting along the Yellowstone National Park and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 31(4):1–12.
Schullery, P. and L. Whittlesey. 1999. Early wildlife history of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Report, available in Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center Library.
Streubel, D. 2002. Small mammals of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Juneau, Alaska: Windy Ridge Publishing.
White, P. J., Robert A. Garrott, and Glenn E. Plumb. 2013. Yellowstone's wildlife in transition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Last updated: September 18, 2019