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New Book Describes Wyoming’s Wild Mammals

January 28, 2016
bobcat in the wild crouching on a rock
Bobcats are among the 117 mammal species described in a new book by Steve Buskirk, University of Wyoming professor emeritus of zoology. (Wyoming Game and Fish Department Photo)

Wyoming’s 117 native wild mammal species -- ranging from grizzly bears to bats and pygmy shrews -- are the subject of a new book written by Steve Buskirk, University of Wyoming professor emeritus of zoology.

He will speak and sign copies of the book, titled “Wild Mammals of Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park,” Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 5 p.m. in the UW Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center, hosted by the UW Biodiversity Institute.

"There has been a need for some time for a book that people can reference to find out what wild mammals are in Wyoming, what they are called, where they occur and how their distribution has changed over the decades." Buskirk says.

Expanding beyond the traditional field guide, Buskirk emphasizes taxonomic classification, geographic range and conservation status for mammalian species. Introductory sections are provided for each order and family, and individual species accounts organize a wealth of data ranging from habitat associations to field measurements in an easy-to-use format.

The book also characterizes the habitats of Wyoming mammals and addresses the conservation and management of mammals in the region.

“The distribution of some of these species is important to conservation, and a lot of decisions are based on what we know about whether or not the distribution is staying constant, expanding or declining,” Buskirk says.

Some species, he says, have increased in distribution over the last 30 or 50 years; others have decreased; some declined in the early 20th century and have later recovered; and there are some that weren’t even in Wyoming when the first settlers arrived, such as mountain goats that were transplanted into Montana near the northwest Wyoming border.

Expanded distribution sometimes is due to more extensive surveys that show some mammals occur much more frequently than originally thought.

“The pygmy rabbit, for example, was first detected in Lincoln County around 1980, and later was found in a lot more places; not because it increased in distribution, we have just done a better job of searching for it,” Buskirk says.

Published by the University of California Press and the UW Biodiversity Institute, the book features color species photos, continental and state-scale distribution maps, and a comprehensive bibliography with nearly 1,000 references. One reviewer notes, “’Wild Mammals of Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park’ is an indispensable resource for mammologists, conservation biologists and dedicated naturalists working and living in this region.”

For more about the book, visit

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