Wildlife and Hunting

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A fawn lays very still in its surroundings. Courtesy of the Uintah County (UT) Library via Mountain West Digital Library.

Large mammals such as elk, deer, moose, bears, mountain lions, mountain sheep and goats frequent the Northern section of the Mountain West. Antelope roam much of the prairie lands that abut the mountains. Grizzly bears are a protected species and are often sited in the Rocky Mountains, especially in Glacier National Park in Montana, although attacks on hikers are known to occur. The region is also home to many small mammals like river otters, skunks, raccoons, badgers, and wolverines. Bird watchers enjoy sightings of eagles, osprey, snow geese, Canada geese, ducks, and many other birds and songbirds.

Visitors and locals alike continue the Mountain West tradition of hunting large and small game. Animal population numbers are closely monitored by the Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Service, which makes decisions about hunting season numbers. Past unregulated hunting practices had devastating effects on wildlife populations in the Mountain West region. Bison and wolves are two examples of animals hunted to near extinction. Current attitudes toward conservation and protection of species have helped these animals recover numbers.