Nestled at the foot of the famous Wasatch Mountains, the vibrant ski town of Park City attracts visitors from across the nation. People gather to recreate, shop, eat, and socialize in the ideal wintertime conditions. However, it’s not just people that find Park City to be a cozy haven. Many species of wildlife make their way from the mountains into the town and surrounding areas during the cold months. Read on to learn more about our Utah native cohabitants!
Although a more recent addition to the wildlife line-up of Utah, moose are a fairly common sighting throughout the Wasatch. First migrating in the 1900’s, Moose were drawn to Utah due to the extermination of many of their natural predators like Grizzlies, Wolves, and Cougars. Additionally, logging in the state opened up meadows and wetlands, their favorite habitat. During the summer, moose are often found in or around alpine lakes like Silver Lake, or Lake Blanche. However, during the winter they often wander into town, and can even be spotted wearing vintage ski suits!
Close cousins of the moose, elk are also a common sighting in and around Park City. This species prefers wide open range, and are typically seen on the eastern side of town. They are particularly common at Round Valley in the early mornings. Elk are a member of the Cervid family, but can be distinguished from deer by their large size and thick mane. Due to their need for ample amounts of space, elk are more common in the Uinta’s than the Wasatch.
3. Mountain Lions:
This species, also known by the names cougar, puma, panther, and occasionally catamount, is much more common in the southern desert regions of Utah. However, a small population inhabits the Wasatch north of Parley’s canyon. The species has made a remarkable return after being all but wiped out in the 1900’s. Despite lax hunting regulations, there are around 1,600 adult lions in the state today. An exceptionally rare sighting around Park City, a tourist is lucky to catch a glimpse of the elusive cat.
These sneaky but gorgeous animals are not a common sight. However, in the winter their red fur can be a dead giveaway. These canines make their way by hunting rodents through the winter, often using their signature pounce to startle the tunneling mammals. Although similar in appearance and both falling under the family Canidae, foxes are separated from dogs by an entire genus, with the former classified under vulpes, and the latter being in the canis genus.
These ferret look-alikes also known as stoats, are a common sight around Park City. Although adorable, these furry cat-like carnivores can be vicious, with the power to take down a full grown rabbit. Tiny balls of firey attitude, these mammals are also curious and bold. Keep a close eye out, as their fur camouflages seamlessly into the snow.
Bobcats are more of a rarity around town- these elusive cats are built for silence and stealth. They can be distinguished from stray house cats by their tufted ears, and distinctive “bob” tail. They are largely solitary animals, only interacting during breeding season, which runs December-April. They are most active from dawn to dusk, and around the Wasatch, they prefer hiding among the trees. Rarely aggressive, it is still a good idea to keep your distance, and not allow interaction with your own pets.
Coyotes are a common sight throughout the West. With their yellow-eyed glares and blood curdling yips, they don’t enjoy the same widespread adoration as their domestic cousins. They prefer wide open space. so they are more likely to be seen on the Eastern side of town. It may require a discerning eye to catch a glimpse, as their tawny fur blend perfectly with the rolling hills of sagebrush.