Snowshoers explore Northern Grand Teton National Park with Jackson Hole Ecotour Adventures

March 2018 has come in like a lion, two mountain lions to be exact!  We've been enjoying a rare look at these elusive cats on the National Elk Refuge just outside of Jackson, Wyoming over the past week, thrilling guides and guests alike (photos below!).  Though winter's grasp remains firm in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, signs of spring are also emerging.  Mountain bluebirds and other migratory songbirds have returned to the valley, and elk have already started spring migrations.  We began the month with deep snowfall and wolf sightings, learn more about what the wildlife of Jackson Hole are up to in the latest wildlife log from Jackson Hole Ecotour Adventures!

 

Wolves in Grand Teton National Park! 

Wolf, coyote, and fox activity peaks in mid and late winter as all three species disperse in to new territories, mate, and establish denning sites during this time.  We've been finding wolves in Grand Teton National Park and on the National Elk Refuge the past two weeks including a pair crossing the road in this video.

Wolf in Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Verlin was able to capture this wolf photo from a distance with his phone through one of our high quality Maven spotting scopes using a technique called digiscoping.  Top quality optics are essential for great viewing opportunities.

 

Moose Socials in GTNP and downtown Jackson

We are all used to seeing solitary moose but this winter we’ve consistently found them in big groups of up to 30 individuals out in Grand Teton National Park.  Moose can remain in areas of deeper snow thanks to their long legs, high stepping gait and preferred forage of willows in winter.  Most of the bulls have now shed their antlers, making it harder to distinguish them from females.  If you look closely between the eyes and ears of male moose you will find pedicle bumps where the antlers will grow this summer.

Even moose like the path of least resistance however.  Last Week Biologist Guide Mike Vanian captured this photo a cow moose walking on Broadway.  This is a cow moose, identified by the white vulva patch on her back end.  

 

Mountain Lions spotted on the National Elk Refuge!

We are thrilled to share one of our most exciting sightings in years this week!  On Saturday a male mountain lion killed a large bull elk on the National Elk Refuge within sight of the road.   To add to the excitement, on Sunday evening a female lion joined the male.  Lions were once thought to be solitary and most interactions, especially around food, would lead to violence.  Research by our friends at Panthera Puma Program has shown that Lions are actually much more social and share kills like these two did more often than we thought!

Male mountain Lions have much larger and wider heads than females, check out how much larger the male in the background (further from the camera) is than the female on the carcass! Photo by guide Chelse Grohman View more photos here!

 

Glimpses of the Coming Spring

Though snow total are above average in the high country, we have had a mild winter in the valley and are already seeing signs of the spring migrations.  Drive carefully as you head north into Grand Teton National Park as large herds of Elk are currently moving off of the National Elk Refuge.

Elk in Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole Wyoming.

Like most other ungulates (hooved mammals), elk herds are led by a dominant matriarch who follow ancient migration routes, passed down from generation to generation.  Photo by guide Josh Metten

We’ve also noticed a visible, and audible, increase in bird species as the spring migrations commence.  In the last week we’ve observed flocks of mountain bluebirds, waxwings, crossbills, juncos, and horned larks on the National Elk Refuge and in Grand Teton National Park.  Red-Tailed Hawks are returning to the valley and rough-legged hawks are flying through as they migrate towards their nesting grounds above the arctic circle some 2000 miles to the north.  In the last week we've observed bald eagles and ravens adding sticks to their nests in preparation to incubate eggs.

 

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing in the Sunshine

The recent sunny weather has for fantastic nordic and snowshoe conditions, we recommend skiing the groomed trail to Jenny Lake and taking a detour over to the Lucas Fabian Homestead to learn about the history of conserving the ranches that are now a part of Grand Teton National Park.  Our guided trips are 10% off through the end of the season on April 15th, 2018 when you book online with the code “Winter18.”

Nordic Skiing in Grand Teton National Park with Jackson Hole Ecotour Adventures.

Take advantage of the spring sunshine with a nordic ski or snowshoe trip in Grand Teton National Park.  Photo by Guide Josh Metten

 

Grizzly Bears Emerge in Yellowstone National Park

Though we haven’t seen any yet in Grand Teton, the first bears have been spotted emerging from hibernation in Yellowstone National Park!  Boar, or male grizzlies are the first to wake up in spring, followed by females. Last to emerge are females with cubs of the year who are now rapidly growing in dens across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem!

Grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park.

Grizzlies, like this boar we spotted on a Grand Teton Wildlife Tour in early April last year are beginning to emerge in Yellowstone.  Winter killed animals, edible roots, and small mammals are among the early food sources important to bears who have just risen from winters long sleep.  Photo by guide Josh Metten.


Now in our 11th year of operation, Jackson Hole Ecotour Adventures leads wildlife safaris, cross country skiing tours, and snowshoe tours in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks 365 days a year.  Let us help maximize your Jackson Hole Experience Today! 307-690-9533 info@jhecotouradventures.com