Wildlife in Crater Lake National Park

Roosevelt Elk

Roosevelt elk were once almost hunted to extinction, but Crater Lake National Park has played an important role in restoring the species to its native range. In the 1910s, small herds numbering 15 individuals each were brought to Oregon by the state’s first game warden, and reintroduced to protected areas in remote regions. The elk that roam Crater Lake National Park are the descendants of these herds. Recent counts of the park’s elk put their population at about 160. They can typically be seen from June to October in the Union Peak area and in meadows in the southern part of the park.

American Marten

The American marten ia a year-round resident of Crater Lake National Park. This tree-dwelling weasel preys on red squirrels and other small mammals, but has also been known to eat insects, nuts and carrion. It is primarily an opportunistic feeder. The wily marten is always hustling and bustling about the park, even in winter months, when a lack of natural predators gives it a distinct advantage. Since it is most active during dawn and dusk, you’re far more likely to encounter a marten’s tracks in the dirt or snow than you are to see one. Regardless, look for climbing up trees, possibly in pursuit of a squirrel.

Clark’s Nutcracker

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This pine-nut eating song bird is named for the American explorer William Clark, who with Meriwether Lewis led the famous transcontinental expedition that claimed the Pacific Northwest for the United States. It is ash gray in color with a black bill, feet and wing markings. It is commonly found throughout the American West and Canada. Clark’s Nutcracker is an avid hoarder of pine nuts in its high-altitude home range, and of pinyon in its lower-altitude wintering grounds in the southwest. It likes to store seeds in underground caches, which can germinate under the right conditions, hence perpetuating the bird’s own habitat.