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National Park Quiz 6: Watchable Wildlife

Which national park would you visit to snag this photograph? Photo by Bill Swindaman via flickr.

Wildlife viewing is a prime attraction of our national parks. Not every wildlife species we might encounter in the parks is as charismatic as a bison, a bald eagle, or a sea otter, but every species is interesting in its own way. Take this little quiz to see whether your knowledge of watchable wildlife is as keen as you think. Answers are at the end. No peeking.

1. Yellowstone Lake is more than just drop-dead gorgeous. It also has many unusual features. One is in the form of curious geothermal features on the lake bottom. Another is the Molly Island ______ rookery.
a. cattle egret
b. sandhill crane
c. white pelican
d. great blue heron

2. When fall rolls around, it’s time to go listen to some elk bugling. That loud whistling sound – so incongruous, considering the source – can be heard in all of the following places EXCEPT:
a. Redwood National Park
b. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
c. North Cascades National Park
d. Acadia National Park

3. If you look long enough and carefully enough, you might reasonably expect to see both an American marten and a red-throated loon in
a. Voyageurs National Park
b. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
c. Big Bend National Park
d. Mojave National Preserve

4. If you want to see a small herd of white-tailed deer, a good place to look would be ______, especially at dawn or dusk.
a. Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park
b. Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
c. Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
d. Lower Lehman Creek in Great Basin National Park

5. Which of the following parks is lowest in biodiversity, offering wildlife viewers the smallest number of different mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, insect, and aquatic species?
a. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
b. Point Reyes National Seashore
c. New River Gorge National River
d. Glacier National Park

6. Skin divers and snorkeling enthusiasts enjoy watching tropical fish species in all of the following national parks EXCEPT:
a. Capitol Reef National Park
b. Buck Island Reef National Monument
c. Virgin Islands National Park
d. Biscayne National Park

7. You watch wildlife and wildlife watches you. Which of the following is most likely to see you first and remain out of sight?
a. an antelope
b. a mountain goat
c. a sea otter
d. a fisher

8. Which of the following is considered one of the “Big Five” watchable wildlife species in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve?
a. bison
b. Dall sheep
c. polar bear
d. wolverine

9. Yellowstone National Park does not have the only free-roaming bison herd in our National Park System. There is also one for visitors to enjoy in
a. Craters of the Moon National Park
b. Wind Cave National Park
c. Mesa Verde National Park
d. Great Basin National Park

10. The Anhinga Trail is a popular choice for wildlife watching at
a. Cumberland Island National Seashore
b. Padre Island National Seashore
c. Crater Lake National Park
d. Everglades National Park

Extra credit question:

11. A late December day finds you and several friends standing on the observation platform of the lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore. All of you are gazing out to sea. Suddenly, one of your companions shouts “There’s one!” and you all swing your binoculars to the indicated area. Yup, there’s one out there for sure. But neither you nor your sharp-eyed friend nor anyone else in your party has actually seen this creature. How did you know it was there?
a. You saw circling birds.
b. You saw a whirlpool.
c. You saw a spout of water.
d. You saw red-stained water.

Super bonus question:

12. OK, so you’ve become one of those exceedingly unlucky national park visitors who fall into the clutches of a dangerous predator. I mean, the damn thing has sunk its teeth into you and is working you over pretty good. If it’s a ______ that’s got you, you might be able to get out of this situation alive by playing dead.
a. mountain lion
b. alligator
c. black bear
d. grizzly bear

Answers: (1) c (2) d (3) a (4) b (5) c (6) a (7) d (8) b (9) b (10) d (11) c – The spout indicates the presence of a migrating gray whale that is too far away to be visible. Since it is December, the animal is almost certainly headed south to the mating and calving lagoons in Baja California, Mexico. (12) d – When a grizzly attacks a human, it may be just trying to neutralize a perceived threat. If you play dead, it may rough you up a bit and then leave you alone. When lions, gators, or black bears attack people, it is almost always with the intent to kill and eat them. You should fight like hell if it’s one of those. Grading: 9 or 10 correct, rest on your laurels; 7 or 8 correct, pretty darn good; 6 correct, passable fair; 5 or fewer correct, nothing to brag about.

PS: If you missed number 12, please review carefully. Traveler cannot spare any readers.


Concerning question 8. The Big Five in Denali are Moose, Caribou, Grizzly, Wolf and Dall Sheep (actually considered a thin horn sheep)--not the Bighorn. [Ed. Good catch; I fixed it. BTW, I saw lots of Dall sheep from the shuttle road when I visited Denali 20 years ago. They are truly magnificent animals. Made me glad I brought my binoculars.]

Wow - I had a perfect score of 12 out of 12 this week - a first for me... I loved question #6, BTW - very clever.

One side note on question #9 - there are actually at least three free-roaming bison herds in the National Park System, at Yellowstone, Wind Cave, and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks (both the North and South Units.)

The reason Yellowstone's bison are called "free-roaming" is because they're not fenced in, like the other bison herds in the NPS. But even that has to be qualified to some degree, since because of the bison carrying brucellosis and for other political reasons, bison are only allowed to roam free in select, small areas outside the park.

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