One of the things we cherish most about Western Montana is our wildlife—the wild animals we share our wilderness with and have nothing but respect for. Our diverse habitat is one of the most intact ecosystems in the lower 48 states and home to at least 19 large mammals and almost 100 small ones. You'll never find them all—some are pretty elusive—but you could certainly try. For starters, head to Glacier National Park for a safe-distance close-up of a mountain goat or to hear an elk bugle during the fall rut. Visit the CSKT Bison Range to see 300 to 500 bison, as well as deer, antelope and bighorn sheep. Spotting a grizzly in the backcountry is a possibility, and best done with proper knowledge of wildlife and bear safety.
Discover some of the West’s best highways, scenic byways, backroads and small towns on a motorcycle trip through Glacier Country, Yellowstone Country and Southwest Montana. Get a free motorcycle guide.
Wildlife is just that—wild. It's important to act responsibly around wildlife, and it's also vital that, while recreating in the area, we help preserve and enhance wildlife habitat by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, please be extra vigilant about not adding additional stress to our essential workers, like park personnel and first responders. That means staying safe and keeping others, including wildlife, safe as well.
Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife, especially during the summer months. Western Montana is wild: Keep in mind that you can see wildlife anywhere in the region. When recreating outdoors, be sure to practice proper outdoor safety to ensure your wildlife encounters are positive.
Glacier Country is a birder's paradise boasting more than 200 species of birds. Check out our birding page for more info.
The larger mammals who make their home here include grizzly bears, lynx, black bears, moose, wolverines, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, coyotes and wolves. The region is also home to badgers, beavers, otters, porcupines, mink, bats and more. Visit Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for more on Montana's wild things.
Our streams, rivers and lakes are home to a variety of fish, including bull trout, lake trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, whitefish, bass and pike. (Please note, bull trout are a threatened species, so please practice catch and release for bull trout, and for brook trout if you can't tell the two species apart.) For more, check out our information on fishing in Glacier Country page or visit Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Western Montana is also home to a variety of insects, including centipedes, millipedes, beetles, spiders, moths, to name a handful. During late summer, grizzly bears feast on moths living under loose rocks on steep mountainsides. Read the National Park Service's entry on insects, spiders, centipedes and millipedes for more information on this complex habitat in Glacier National Park.
It's important to remember that we share the land with wild animals. Many grizzly and black bears travel the forests, trails and terrain of Glacier Country. Grizzly bears are identified by a distinctive hump on their shoulders. Typically, their coats are dark brown, but can vary from very light cream to black. Grizzlies weigh between 400 and 1,500 pounds and can stand up to 8 feet tall on their hind legs. They also move very quickly and can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. When recreating in bear country, it's important to follow and practice certain rules and guidelines.
Read more about bear safety from Be Bear Aware.
Additional Links and Resources
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It’s #NationalParkWeek and we want to hear your park story about our fave place, @GlacierNPS. Tweet a fun GNP memor… https://t.co/weKGsEahil