Tips to spot winter wildlife in Glacier National Park
As the crowds of visitors recede and winter settles over Glacier National Park, the newfound calm and quiet make for an ideal environment to spot the park’s many inhabitants as they move about their habitats.
Many of the animals in the park have stealthy winter camouflage, which can make spotting them a fun challenge. That said, one of the benefits of wildlife spotting in winter is that many critters that usually move to the highlands in warm weather (to forage and get away from humans) will come down to the milder, more accessible lowlands in winter.
While bears spend a good portion of the season hibernating, the park’s 70 other species of mammal like elk , red fox, white-tailed deer, and bald eagles come out to play in the winter wonderland, giving visitors outstanding photo opportunities and great memories. No selfies though! Stay safe and be sure to stay well away from wildlife (the law is 300 feet from bears, 75 feet from other animals) but don’t be afraid to keep your eyes open and look for these telltale signs of furry and feathered park inhabitants.
1. Check for Tracks
The snow forms a perfect canvas to check out animal tracks, with fresh, well-defined footprints telling a detailed story of passersby. You don’t have to be an expert tracker to pick up on what the tracks mean. Does the animal have claws, paws, do they hop or run, how many toes? See what you can discover just by observing.
2. Look to the Water
When lakes and streams freeze, any liquid water draws animals like crazy. This makes springs and thin-iced lakesides the ideal place to spot thirsty animals in their own habitat, taking a sip of that refreshing, icy water.
No, we don’t mean skidaddle. While in the summer, animal scat blends in with the undergrowth, the bright white snow makes it easy to spot in winter. Small pellets in a cluster? Probably a deer. The bigger the scat, the bigger the animal that left it behind. If you look closely you may be able to tell what’s on the menu during winter in Glacier National Park.