The Uinta ground squirrel is commonly seen in the sagebrush areas of Yellowstone. It’s also seen in disturbed or heavily grazed grasslands and developed areas. The Soda Butte Creek Picnic Area has a lot of them. While prohibited, I’m sure some people feed them there. They not only eat grasses, forbs and mushrooms, but also insects and carrion (including road-killed members of their own species).
While not very high on visitors’ lists of “must see” animals, they are important to the Yellowstone ecosystem because they are an important prey species for smaller predators such as hawks, weasels, foxes, badgers and coyotes. At about 12 inches in length and half a pound, they are a more substantial meal than a 2-ounce vole.
This red fox carried this ground squirrel parallel to the road for about a 1/4 mile before it headed away from the road. It created its own little “bear jam.” I assume it was heading back to a den with hungry kits.