Animals In Bryce Canyon
As visitors make their way toward Bryce Canyon National Park, they are sure to spot many of the 59 mammal, 175 bird and 15 reptile/amphibian species living in the park and the surrounding area. Seeing animals in their natural environment is just as amazing as the sites in the park.
The most common mammals seen in and around Bryce Canyon are Uinta Chipmunks and Pronghorn Antelope. The chipmunks are plentiful within the park boundaries, especially near the picnic and overlook areas. This is due to visitors feeding these curious and friendly creatures. However, visitors need to stop this practice. Feeding these furry friends human food can lead to them becoming dependent on humans for survival; and may even lead to an early death due to health issues related to the unhealthy change in their diet.
Pronghorn Antelope are usually seen in the meadows along the roadway leading to Bryce Canyon. These magnificent creatures look like they should be running through Africa instead of Southern Utah. They most often travel in large herds and can be seen running and grazing throughout the Bryce Canyon area. They look similar to deer, but antelope have long slender horns and unique white and brown markings on their neck and chest. These animals are very skittish and will flee if anyone gets too close.
Many other mammals that can be seen at Bryce Canyon National Park include:
- Cougar/Mountain Lion, rarely seen and fearful of human. Cougars hunt antelope keeping the population of the herd healthy.
- Golden Mantel Ground Squirrels are smaller than other common squirrels and are usually found begging near picnic sites. Please don’t feed the animals.
- Utah Prairie Dogs are reddish tan in color and are called “Popguts” by the locals. This is due to their round protruding bellies that can be seen when they stand on their hind legs.
Reptiles, amphibians and fish are also found in the park. Some of the creepy crawlers and slimy swimmers found in the area include:
- Great Basin Rattle Snake
- Short Horned Lizard or Horny Toad
- Side-Blotched Lizard
- Tiger Salamander
While there are many, many types of birds living in Bryce Canyon the two that are most commonly seen are Stellar Jays and Ravens. Stellar Jays look similar to cardinals, the main difference between the two birds is their coloring. Rather than brilliant red, the jays have black heads and beautiful sky blue feathers on their wings and chest. Ravens are large black birds resembling crows. They can be seen in abundance throughout the southwest and south central areas of Utah.
Some of the more uncommon birds that can be seen at Bryce Canyon National Park include:
- California Condors have been on the endangered species list since 1982 when there were only 22 birds left in the wild. Since then many condors have been breed in captivity. In 1996 conservationists began releasing the birds into the wild. Several can now been seen in the Bryce Canyon area.
- Peregrine Falcon. These swift hunters had spent many years on the endangered species list, but they were successfully removed from the list in 1999.
- Osprey is a part of the hawk family and specializes in hunting fish.
- Violet-green Swallow. These slender birds have beautiful feathers that shimmer from violet to green. They are called swallows because they fly with their mouth open “swallowing” insects.
CC – David Smith Flikr
Every visitor to Bryce Canyon National Park is sure to have more than one encounter with the local wildlife that’s worthy of a PBS Nature Show. Here are a few safety tips to remember when having a close encounter in the park:
- Keep your distance.
- Don’t feed the animals.
- Don’t touch the animals.
Always remember you are their guest and Bryce Canyon National Park is their home; treat the animals with the consideration and respect that they deserve. That way everyone involved will stay healthy, happy and have a wonderful experience.
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