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Yellowstone: A Wild Life Paradise

Yellowstone national park is a Located mostly in Wyoming, Yellowstone Park was the first national park in the world, built in 1872, signed off by President Grant. It is known for its wide variety of wildlife - 67 different species of mammals call this place home, not including the many birds, reptiles and fish, which bring the number of species to the hundreds. It is also the home to many geysers.

Yellowstone is one of the biggest reserves in the world, with 3,468 square miles (8,983 square km). It has rivers, canyons, lakes and mountain ranges making it an incredibly popular destination for nature lovers. It sees about 2 million visitors a year, with July being the busiest month by far. 3,700 employees work in Yellowstone, and it offers nine hotels and lodges.

Note: If you're planning a visit though, make sure you always follow the rules, for your own safety as well as the animals'! 

 
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Up close and personal with a wild black bear at Yellowstone. Yellowstone national park is home to 67 different mammal species, including 2 types of bears: grizzly and black.

 
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Yellowstone national park is home to numerous species, including: badgers, bats, beavers, bighorn sheep, bison, black bears, bobcats and lynx, chipmunks, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, deer, domestic dogs, elks, flying squirrels, foxes, grizzly bears, ground squirrels, hares & jackrabbits, marmots, mice, moose, mountain goats, mountain lions, muskrats, other rodents, otters, pikas, pine martins, pocket gophers, porcupines, prairie dogs, pronghorn antelopes, skunks, tree squirrels, voles, weasels, minks, ferrets, wolverines and wolves!
 
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A herd of bison. As big and slow as they look, a bison can run three times faster than a human, when charging. Park rangers advise that if you see one, you should keep your distance and/or stay in your car.

 
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A cautious Yellowstone wolf. 
 
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A black bear cub searching for yummy ants and grubs, as it digs into an old log in search for them.  

 
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A Bull elk making itself heard in the Gibbon Meadow. Although these are beautiful animals, trip planners warn visitors at Yellowstone to keep a safe 25 yard (23 meters) distance from them, as well as from most other animals, and specifically 100 yards (91 meters) from bears and wolves. Keep this in mind if you plan on visiting!  

 
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This elk calf is only half an hour old at Mammoth hot springs.   

 
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A grizzly bear watches near the Swan Lake Flats. According to NPS warnings, some people mistakenly believe that when a bear rears up on two legs, it means it's about to charge and attack (people have learned this from Hollywood Movies). However this is not true: When a bear stands up on two legs, it is trying to gather more information about what you are and what your intentions are.

Bears gather this information through a combination of scent, sight, and sound. Standing up on two legs improves the bear's ability to gather sight and scent information. This is a good time to start backing away, talking to the bear in a calm voice, and showing the bear know that you are a person and that you mean no harm to it or its cubs.

 
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A leopold wolf is following a grizzly bear. Probably not a great decision...

 
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A beautiful red fox in Lamar valley.  

 
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A black wolf in the snow of Lamar valley. There were no wolves in Yellowstone park before 1995, but after being reintroduced there, they luckily thrived. Today there are over 300 wolves, their descendants, living in Yellowstone. 

 
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A bull elk in the morning fog. 

 
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A mountain lion picking its way carefully down the rock. The mountain lion, also called the cougar, is the largest member of the cat family living in Yellowstone. Mountain lions can weigh up to 200 pounds (~90 kg), although lions in Yellowstone are thought to range between 140 and 160 pounds (~65 and ~70 kg) for males and around 100 pounds (45 kg) for females. 
 
Two to three kittens may be born at any time of year, although most arrive in summer and fall. For reasons that are not clear, only about 50 percent of kittens survive their first year. The current population of lions in Yellowstone is estimated to be 18-24 in total and it is thought to be increasing.  
 
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The 68th mammal in Yellowstone is the nature photographer. This group has been waiting since dawn for a badger to show up. Nature photography, some say, is 5% luck, 5% skill, and 95% patience. 

 
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No, this mammoth ground squirrel wasn't yawning, it is actually screeching as a sign of warning, which is why it is also known as the 'screeching' ground squirrel. They only live in the states surrounding Yellowstone.
 
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A beautiful coyote. This animal has a bad name, however, it's another stunning creature you'd be able to see roaming around this park if you visit. 

 
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A bold eagle stands over the Yellowstone River. According to Wikipedia: "Since the creation of the park in 1872, 318 species of birds have been documented within its boundaries. Although Yellowstone is not a birding mecca because of its high altitude and cold winters, it is home to a variety of interesting bird species that attract visitor attention every year. The park has a good resident population of Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, Common Loons, Ospreys, American White Pelicans, and Sandhill Cranes."
 
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A trumpeter swan, so called for its tooting sound, as it opens its large wings. 

 
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Four cubs of a single grizzly family. This is a very rare number of cubs born in one pregnancy and is only the 3rd documented time in the history of the park.  
 
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Seven native ungulate species live in Yellowstone: elk, mule deer, bison, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and white-tailed deer.
 
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Plains bison during the winter at Yellowstone. The Yellowstone bison population numbers between 2,300-4,500. Important fact: Bison actually harm more people every year in Yellowstone than bears do. People don't keep their distance from the peaceful looking bison and end up getting charged at by the angry beasts. 

 
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A wolf watches biologists coming to visit, after being captured and collared with a radio transmitter. These collars give biologists a chance to understand how the wolf population is doing, since it's incredibly hard to capture them, as they are masters at hiding.
 
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A stampede of 40 wild horses running from one meadow to the next. Most wild horses groups have one horse leader that determines the direction.

 
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Visitors to Yellowstone must understand that these are wild animals, and they are not accustomed to humans like safari animals might be. A good way to judge, says the rangers, is that if your presence affects the behavior of the animals in any way - that's too close. 

 
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When a 2,000 pound buffalo wants to walk on the road, it'll walk on the road. Especially if it's in a group. Drivers have to be extra careful because they have been known to charge at cars, which to them may look like big, scary animals. Otherwise, they mostly ignore them. 

 
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A grizzly bear looking for food in a flowery field. Always know 'bear protocol' before going in the park, says the park service, this can save your life in some cases.
 
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A rarely seen wolverine. Wolverines, like the lynx, need large territories and will defend them with great enthusiasm. 
 
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A mountain goat under 'Cutoff Peak'. The mountain goats are not native to this area but have colonized the northern parts of the park after being introduced to the environment. 

 
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Big horn sheep. The herd living on the Northern range of Yellowstone number about 200 animals, and can be seen traveling between their favorite cliffs to the river where they drink. 

 
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American badgers. The badger is a small mammal but it is known to be fierce and actually dangerous when defending territory or their cubs. Never approach a badger - they may look cute, but they can really hurt you. 

 
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No one snorts and huffs better than a buffalo. 

 
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Bears may be seen in Yellowstone March through November. Yellowstone is one of the only areas in the south of Canada that still has large grizzly bear populations. According to the 2013 Yellowstone trip planner: "Do not run from a bear. Carry bear spray and take time to learn how to use it safely and effectively.
 
If you have a surprise encounter with a bear, do not run. Slowly back away. If a bear charges, stand your ground and use your bear spray. It has been highly successful in stopping aggressive behavior in bears. If a bear charges and makes contact with you, fall to the ground onto your stomach and 'play dead'.”
 
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A bull bison crossing the Yellowstone river. Bison have lived in the area of Yellowstone since prehistoric times, they are truly the natives of this land and were hunted and respected by the Native Americans. The Yellowstone herd is one of the few in the world that doesn't have any cattle genes mixed in by man.
 
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A mule deer. Watching, waiting.
 
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A cute little pika. Pikas are native to cold climates, mostly in Asia, North America and parts of Eastern Europe. They love the cold and it is conjectured that global warming is pushing them to seek higher places and to migrate north. Most species live on rocky mountain sides, where there are numerous crevices to shelter in, although some also construct crude burrows.
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A young moose walking through the meadow. Doesn't get more peaceful than this.

 
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A family photo: Female grizzly bear family shambling through the park. 

 
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Since wolves are hard to track, and can disappear at night. Thermal imaging helps keep an eye on them.  

 
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A fierce-looking mountain lion. Mountain lions tend to be great hiders and move in secret, so few visitors actually get lucky enough to view one for themselves.
 
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Stop! Mother bear and cub passing through! 

 
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A porcupine, part of the rich wildlife in Yellowstone. 

 
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A Shiras Bull Moose resting its head on a snowy bush. Those antlers must get heavy sometimes. 

 
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Otter pups playing in the water. Seems like someone's tail is going to get a nasty bite! 
 
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A little bighorn. This lamb was strolling on a mountain road along with its family. 

 
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A stunning shot of 2 playfully growling wolves. 

 
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Remember when Yosemite Sam from Looney Tunes used to mutter about 'yellow-bellied marmots'? This is what he was talking about. 

 
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Meadow vole. A vole is a small rodent, similar to a mouse but with a denser body, a shorter and hairier tail, and a rounder head. Basically looks like a cross between a mouse and a hamster. It only lives 3-6 months.  

 
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A muskrat on the Yellowstone river. The muskrats are usually active late at night, before dawn, and sometimes at dusk. 

 
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A grizzly mother and cub. Notice the mother is wearing a radio neckband, which helps track her location.
 
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A mule deer, a mother and fawn. 

 
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A skunk making its lonely (and stinky) way through Geode Creek. 

 
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Mother bear with 3 cubs standing on a carcass. 

 
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A standoff between hunting wolves and a big elk. A moment when life and death are hanging in the balance. 

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