Greater Yellowstone ecosystem map courtesy of USGS.

Greater Yellowstone ecosystem map courtesy of USGS.


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What is the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?

The greater Yellowstone ecosystem is one of the largest nearly-intact temperate-zone ecosystems on earth. That means that it has basically the same plants and animals that it had before humans arrived in North America. It is home to the largest concentration of wildlife, especially what they call the megafauna — the big critters like bison and grizzly and moose and elk — in the lower 48 states.

Those animals are what the greater Yellowstone ecosystem is all about, and it’s also what the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary is all about: providing lifelong sanctuary to non-releasable wildlife from this ecosystem while sharing a message of education and conservation.

The ecosystem doesn’t end at the borders of Yellowstone National Park. When the Park boundaries were drawn in 1872, they weren’t thinking about ecosystems, they were specifically working to protect the thermal features: geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots. Roughly half of all the active geysers in the world are within Yellowstone National Park.

The greater Yellowstone ecosystem is about ten times the size of Yellowstone itself and it includes two national parks, most of five national forests, the Absaroka/Beartooth Wilderness — which is nearly a million acres itself — part of the Wind River reservation, three national wildlife refuges, and well over a million acres of BLM land. The greater Yellowstone ecosystem is 22 million acres and that’s bigger than ten of our fifty states — just slightly smaller than South Carolina.

Preserving this ecosystem is an important mission. We do our part through education and providing homes for non-releasable wildlife. We’d love to have your help!