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Wildlife in Western Montana + Glacier National Park

wildlife watching

Wildlife Watching The Wild Animals of Glacier Country

The Wild Animals of Glacier Country

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 close-up of a mountain goat or to hear an elk bugle during the fall rut. Visit the National Bison Range to see 300 – 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.

When viewing wildlife in Montana, remember they are indeed wild. Please don't feed them and always view them from a safe distance.

Hit Refresh in Yellowstone Country

Imagine a view so good you’ll forget to share it. Press pause on all the noise—explore Yellowstone Country Montana.

Montana Wildlife, Mammals, Fish and Critters

This birder’s paradise boasts over 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 (please practice catch and release, as they are a threatened species), lake trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, whitefish, bass and pike. For more, check out our information on fishing in Glacier Country 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.

Recreating in Bear Country

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. The Grizzly Bear is identified by a distinctive hump on its shoulders. Typically, its coat is dark brown, but can vary from very light cream to black. Grizzlies reach weights of 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.

  • Maintain a clean campsite. Be sure to store food in a bear-proof canister or hang it between trees at a height unreachable by bears.
  • Don't use perfumes or scented body lotions in your campsite.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Most bears prefer to avoid people. When hiking, be sure to make noise so bears and other wildlife know you are coming. Helpful sounds include loud clapping, whistles, singing, etc.
  • Hike with a friend.
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
  • If you see a decomposing animal carcass or smell a strong odor, be sure to give a wide berth to the area, as bears are attracted to these smells.
  • Bears are typically more active at dawn and dusk. When planning your hike, time it so you are hiking during daylight hours.
  • Never enter a closed trail.
  • Camp in designated camping areas.
  • Be sure to pack out all garbage.
  • If you encounter a bear, do not run and do not make eye contact. Attempt to make yourself less threatening. If a bear charges, drop to the ground belly first, cover your head with your arms, hands interlaced behind your neck, and play dead.
  • Remember that bears will fiercely defend their cubs. Don't come between a cub and a sow.

Read more about bear safety.

Additional Links and Resources

Recreate Responsibly Plan Ahead, Play it Safe, and Leave No Trace.
News from Glacier National Park Currently, 11.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for travel.

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