Uinta & Wyoming Ground Squirrels

Wyoming ground squirrel

I find these 2 species very difficult to distinguish. The ground squirrel above was photographed at Fossil Butte National Monument. It appeared “buffier” than the Uinta ground squirrels I see at Yellowstone and the Teton Valley (in this area, there are no Wyoming GS).

When the National Park Service surveyed wildlife, they identified these as Richardson’s ground squirrels. The Wyoming ground squirrel has since been split from Richardson’s (although the NPS signage and species list still lists them as “Richardson’s”).

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge lists Wyoming GS as “common” and Uintas as “occasional.” The ground squirrels I saw there looked pretty much the same as the one in the photo above.

So it would seem the one above is a Wyoming ground squirrel. But really, how do you tell when ranges overlap? Any pointers?

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4 Comments on “Uinta & Wyoming Ground Squirrels”

  1. vdinets Says:

    WGS usually has b&w tail tip. At least I haven’t seen any exceptions.

  2. John Fox Says:

    Both my field guides say Uinta has grayish undertail and Wyoming is buff to brown. That was a reasonable approach when I was out there. Uinta is also a heavier squirrel, 9-21 oz vs 10-15 oz for WGS. I think I was at Red Rocks NWR and the place was lousy with ground squirrels, both of these I believe. The Uinta were larger and maybe ran with their tail straight up, like Least Chipmunk. But I didn’t spend as much time on it as I might have, anxious to get to Yellowstone.

  3. tembo10 Says:

    I think you’re going to need to get a squirologist (?) to help you out here Matt. I was slightly north of there (in the Gravelli Mountain range) last week and drove myself (and the family) nearly mad trying to figure out which species we were looking at. I settled on Uinta in the end, but it was a bit of a thumb suck.

    Speaking of the Gravellis I would highly recommend them as a destination for a visit. They abut the western boundary of Yellowstone NP and have pretty much the same species list, and are almost ridiculously scenic. The difference was that in Yellowstone we saw about 10,000 people, whereas in the Gravelli Forest Reserve we saw 5 vehicles the entire day. There is a cabin high up in the mountain range (I think it was called Black Butte cabin), which you can hire for $25 a day, and I’m sure that spotlighting for a few days would throw up all sorts of interesting species. They are supposed to have high wolf and grizzly populations although we only saw dung on our trip.

    Charles

  4. mattinidaho Says:

    Hi Charles,
    I looked at the last small mammal survey done in the area (albeit in the 1970s) and that survey recorded both species at Fossil Butte. The Wyoming GS was the more common, but Uintas were also present.

    In Yellowstone, I have never seen a reference to a Wyoming GS. Using the scientific surveys seems very helpful in these situations.

    Thanks for the recommendation n the Gravellis. Definitely an area worth exploring on a future trip!


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