Wyoming Wildlife

More than 600 species of wildlife inhabit Wyoming. This tremendous abundance and diversity of wild creatures can be attributed to the state's extremely diverse habitat. Wyoming is known as one of the few places in the United States where you can see wildlife from all major highways. Bring your binoculars, camera and more film than you think you'll ever need. Over half of the state's 97,914 square miles is public land, wild and free for you to enjoy.

The diverse terrain in Wyoming includes plains, foothills and high mountain ranges. Within each of these areas are forests, sagebrush flatlands, marshy wetlands, river bottoms and rocky cliffs. Each area has wildlife of its own and even the beginner can see wildlife readily.

A visit to the high plains or deserts provides the opportunity to see pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, jack rabbits, golden eagles and coyotes. Mule deer may also be seen in this arid country, but are found in the foothills and higher mountains as well. Elk are found in all parts Wyoming mountain ranges and bighorn sheep and pikas occupy many of the high, rugged peaks. Riparian areas (areas next to water) in western Wyoming provide a chance to see a moose or bald eagle.

The best places to see a large variety of birds and mammals are riparian areas (areas next to water). These places are literally alive with a variety of birds, including trumpeter swans, great blue herons, yellow-headed blackbirds and ospreys. Muskrats, raccoons and beavers inhabit the creeks and river bottoms. Riparian areas in western Wyoming provide a chance to see a moose or bald eagle. In the desert, sage grouse and antelope gather around watering holes, accompanied by an occasional mule deer. Elk, blue and ruffed grouse, ravens, gray jays, marmots and goshawks are found in the mountains.

National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center in Dubois highlights the successful wildlife and habitat management practices that have resulted in the largest concentration of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the world. The center is an educational experience for everyone, with exciting wildlife displays that recreate the winter and spring mountain environment of these magnificent animals.

Whiskey Mountain, just outside Dubois, is home to the largest Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd in North America. Guided tours to the animal’s winter range are available in the fall and winter months to see the bighorn sheep up close.

The National Elk Refuge, adjacent to the southern border of Grand Teton National Park, provides a winter home to nearly 7,500 elk every year. Late in October and early in November when snow comes to the high country, elk begin their traditional migration from their summer range in the surrounding mountains to lower winter range in the valley. Heavy snows force the animals to lower elevations in search of food. Elk stay on the refuge for about six months each winter. During the hardest part of the winter, if natural forage is not available, the elk are fed supplementally. Horse-drawn sleigh rides are available to take visitors for a close-up look at the elk herd. Trips originate at the nearby National Museum of Wildlife art. The nearly 25,000 acre National Elk Refuge is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, the first ever established by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the United States (1968), is home for more than 200 free roaming wild horses on 31,000 acres of BLM land in northern Wyoming and southern Montana. The Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center offers education on the horses and guidance on how to find the herd.

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge lies along 35 miles of the Green River below Fontenelle Dam, about 25 miles north of the city of Green River. The 26,382 acre refuge is home to more than 170 species of birds during various periods of the year and is historically a breeding ground for western Canada geese, mallards, pintails, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, ring-necked ducks, doves and sage grouse. The Green River and adjacent reservoirs make up a staging area for birds migrating from this high country basin to the lower and warmer southwest area of the United States. During spring and fall, a great variety of migratory birds from the alpine and coniferous zones may be seen. Seedskadee, which can be reached on WYO 372 northwest from Green River, is a place where hunters, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the peace and solitude of a natural river environment.