Protecting and preserving remarkable wildlife.
The sound of an elk bugling. The wild eyes of a spotted owl. A salamander slinking under a rock. National parks are home to a vast diversity of wildlife, often providing ideal habitat and serving as a sanctuary for many species. Still, species face an onslaught of threats, from climate change, human interference, emerging diseases, nonnative species, and habitat fragmentation at the landscape level.
In order to stay resilient in the face of continual threats to ecosystems, parks must carefully monitor wildlife and their habitats and respond accordingly. Working closely with the National Park Service (NPS), the National Park Foundation (NPF) supports priority natural resource projects through on the ground restoration and protection actions, adaptive management practices, and landscape level conservation efforts. NPF and NPS’ collective efforts help conserve native species and restore critical habitats, leading to healthy and vibrant ecosystems with thriving wildlife.
NPF provides continued support towards sustaining native species of special concern, including rare, declining, sensitive, endemic, unique, threatened, and endangered species. Current efforts include protecting endangered forest birds at Haleakalā National Park, mapping habitat for endangered mussels at Buffalo National River, and providing suitable stream habitat conditions for a rare desert native frog in Saguaro National Park.
In order to protect wildlife, first we must understand it. Park scientists continuously conduct inventory and monitoring research studies in parks, collecting key baseline and long-term data on wildlife population abundance and range, ecosystem dynamics, migration routes, and responses to various environmental and human factors. Current NPF-funded funds studies examine ecosystem dynamics of bears, sea otters, and razor clams in Lake Clark National Park & Preserve; snowshoe hare viability in the face of climate, competition, and predator impacts in Isle Royale National Park; baseline ecosystem conditions at Glacier National Park in advance of a bison reintroduction led by the neighboring Blackfeet Tribe; and the populations, health, and movements of wolves and caribou in the sub-arctic wilderness of Denali National Park & Preserve.
To protect biodiversity, native species, and ecosystem balances, parks must defend against threats as they emerge, and mitigate wherever possible. For example, in Yellowstone National Park, biologists have embarked on a multi-year effort to safeguard the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout against invasive lake trout. With NPF’s help, the biologists are making progress towards sustainable population goals.
NPF supports efforts to restore wildlife to their historic ranges. In 2022, endangered California condors took flight over Redwood National and State Parks for the first time in more than a century, the culmination of a years-long collaborative effort led by the Yurok Tribe. Prairie dog colonies in the path of development areas in Arizona are being translocated to Petrified Forest National Park, as part of a multi-year effort to rebuild plague-impacted park populations for the ultimate goal of reintroducing black-footed ferrets. In Texas at Big Thicket National Preserve, efforts are underway to build up suitable habitat for the reintroduction of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.
Rapidly changing climate conditions continue to dramatically impact park ecosystems. Through scientific assessments, park scientists can better understand risk factors for vulnerable species and their potential for resiliency in the face of climate change. Current studies underway include looking at camouflage mismatch of snowshoe hares due to changing snow conditions at Isle Royale National Park, impacts of changing boreal and arctic ecosystems on caribou herds at Denali and Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserves, and analyzing melting tidewater glacier habitat used by harbor seals in Kenai Fjords National Park.
UpdatePrairie Dog Management Translocates 100 Prairie Dogs to Petrified Forest National Park
UpdateCalifornia Condors Take Flight in Redwoods
UpdateAnother Year of Impact in Our Parks
UpdateReflecting on a Year of Achievements in Our National Parks
UpdateMonitoring the Golden Eagle in Yellowstone National Park
UpdateReintroducing Wolves to Yellowstone National Park