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Nature in Yosemite

The Creatures of Yosemite - Coyote, Mule Deer, Brown Bear, Big Horn Sheep

Yosemite National Park is home to about 77 species of mammals, 250 varieties of birds, and 24 different types of amphibians and reptiles.

Most often seen are the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). These large-eared deer are commonly seen in the valley during the winter months, when they come down from the higher elevations in search of food. They can sometimes be seen grazing on the golf course in Wawona.

The coyote (Canis latrans), a silver grey canine, can be seen trotting along valley roads or through meadows in the early morning or evening. A coyote is an opportunistic feeder and thus they go after road kill in winter when other food is scarce. Visitors should always avoid offering food to a coyote to keep them from learning to beg from tourists.

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is the species of bear found in Yosemite. Their coats actually vary in from brown to cinnamon as well as black. Some bears are active year-round, but are seldom seen by visitors. It is the nature of the bear to avoid human contact so if you come upon a bear, making loud noises and arm waving may scare it away. Retreat though, if the bear doesn't. Bears will go after food, even in coolers, so be sure all food and cooking utensils are properly stored. If backpacking, you are required to store all your food in bear-proof canisters.

Bighorn sheep (Ovis Canadensis) live in the forest but sightings are sporadic because they blend so well into their habitat. Sightings are usually near the eastern boundary of the park. Once hunted almost to extinction in Yosemite, the bighorn sheep were reintroduced in 1986.

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