Waterton National Park Wildlife, Animals

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Park Wildlife

Waterton Park’s diverse landscapes are primary habitat for numerous wildlife species including large mammalian carnivores, ungulates such as deer, elk sheep, and bison, and over 250 varieties of bird. Read More

  • Bears can be seen foraging for food in the lower prairies during spring and autumn.
  • Ungulates, including deer, elk, antelope and bison, move in herds and eat grasses in the Blakiston and Townsite Fan areas.
  • Migratory birds can be found in several areas of Waterton Park, including Muskinonge and Lower Waterton lakes.


Due to Waterton’s contrasting terrain, a vast number of wildlife species co-exist within park boundaries. In general, wildlife is more easily spotted in late summer and fall, during rutting season; plants offer their most nutritious abundance during these times as well. On a daily basis, animals are best seen during dawn and dusk, when foraging or seeking shelter.

Thousands of visitors flock to Glacier and Waterton each year in the hopes of spotting a bear. Both parks are home to Grizzly bears and black bears. These hibernating carnivores are more easily viewed during spring and fall, when they move to lower elevations in search of food.

  • Grizzlies are larger than black bears, and have a round, broad face.
  • Black bears have a more narrow head and snout.
  • Both species require plenty of room as solitary creatures or mother with cubs; bears roam large territories in search of food.
  • Bears spend most of their waking hours eating. Favorite dining options include berries, moths, fish, and smaller mammals.

Best Places for Viewing Bears

  • Bears can be seen wandering the slopes where grasslands rise to meet the mountains.
  • Black bears are often found in berry patches on the lower prairies during summer.

Ungulate means “hoofed animal” and includes such species as deer (whitetail and mule), antelope and elk, among others. These animals generally move in herds. Ungulates are best spotted in autumn when rutting season is in full swing. Visitors may even catch a glimpse of lead males sparring over breeding rights.

  • Male elk, moose and deer shed their antlers every fall and grow a new set each spring.
  • Antelope, big born sheep, mountain goats and bison do not shed their horns.
  • Elk herds are migratory and generally have different summer and wintering habitats.

Best Places to View Ungulates

  • Moose and whitetail deer generally prefer river bottoms and boggy areas.
  • Blakiston and Townsite Fans, featuring numerous grasses, are great places to find mule deer and elk.
  • Mountain goats and big horn sheep prefer rocky cliffs at high elevations.
  • Waterton’s bison herd can be seen in Blakiston Fan and near Pincher Creek entrance.

With 250 species of birds within its boundaries, Waterton is an ornithologist’s paradise.

  • Waterton Park is a destination point for a variety of migratory birds, ducks and geese.

Best Places For Bird-Watching

  • During autumn, Maskinonge Lake and Lower Waterton Lake feature swans, ducks, geese and golden eagles.
  • Carthew-Anderson Trail and prairie areas along Waterton River showcase alpine birds such as ptarmigans and finches.

Respecting Wildlife

  • Never feed any form of wildlife!
  • Be bear aware – carry and know how to use bear spray.
  • Give wildlife plenty of space. Never approach animals for any reason, including photographs.