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for people who care about the West

Photographs and writing on Yellowstone wildlife

Review of “Yellowstone Wildlife: Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.”


Yellowstone Wildlife: Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Paul A. Johnsgard, photos by Thomas D. Mangelsen
256 pages, paper:
University Press of Colorado, 2013.

In Yellowstone Wildlife, Paul Johnsgard describes the region as shaped like the print of a raccoon’s paw. Aided by famed photographer Thomas Mangelsen, Johnsgard carefully examines each toe of the paw, tenderly tracing the wrinkles on every digit. In the process, he and Mangelsen explore some well-travelled ground: Yellowstone National Park is one of the country’s most visited parks, thanks largely to its photogenic wildlife. But Mangelsen’s photographs catch the park’s iconic animals in unusual and often domestic moments, from a pair of sandhill cranes guarding their nest to a group of coyote pups roughhousing in the rocks. Meanwhile, Johnsgard teases out Yellowstone’s wide range of habitats and inhabitants, recounting the hibernation of the tiny western jumping mouse, the early lives of beavers and the trials of the park’s elk herds. All told, it’s an affectionate portrait of a well-loved place.