Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wolves, wolves, wolves, wolves!

click photos to enlarge

This is a continuation of my previous post on our adventures in Yellowstone National Park titled Wolves

The beautiful weather in Yellowstone continues although the forecast is indicating a change is in the works – 4 to 7 inches of snow over the next two days! Regardless, we will take it while we can get it.

The alarm sounded a 5am this morning as it does each morning here. Up and rolling in under 20 minutes. Into the Lamar we head for a 4 pack day. The events this morning would lead to our observation of 4 different wolf packs.

 

The first on the menu was two members of the Druid Peak wolf pack. These yearlings were down near the road harassing coyotes. The coyotes had a den in the area so they were playing for keeps. The wolves were just wandering around causing trouble. The coyotes were yipping and howling at the wolves. They would follow them around and try to nip at their tails. When contact was made the wolves would turn around and the coyotes would go running. The wolves didn’t appear too interested in pursuit so they just continued on. The coyotes were right back on their tails. We watched for about 30 minutes.

 

Next up, the Agate wolf pack. This pack killed a bull elk just inside the tree line last night. We had arrived just a minute too late to watch the chase where the wolves had the elk on the ground twice before it went into the trees. While unsure of the result last night, the result was more obvious this morning as the Agate wolves were stretched out in the sun near the site. They had been feeding well.

Third of the day were the Slough Creek wolf pack whose den is visible from Slough Creek. We watched a few individuals near the den site, then 12 adults passed near us, cross the creek and walked up the hill to the den. There were many greetings. Greetings are always fun to watch as each wolf must show their affection for the higher ranking wolves. Lots of excitement and tail wagging. We have been hoping that the puppies will emerge from the den, but there are still no signs. The biologist believes there are three females sharing a single large den, each with their own puppies. We will probably never know for sure. The adults eventually bedded down for the day. One exciting part of the morning was during all of the action, everyone looking through their scopes, a huge bison decided to join us. He walked right between the cars and up toward all of the people. I received the warning when he was about 10 feet away. I instinctively grabbed my scope. Few others did. In the end, only one scope was knocked over and into the snow. The bison passed through without harming anything or anyone else.

Paul had asked us if we wanted to hike Rescue Creek. We agreed, so Paul, Karyn, and I all left for the hike. It was a shuttle hike and would cross some snow fields. We didn't know if we would make it or not, but it was worth a try. A half mile out the trail, we see a lone Black wolf, most likely a Leopold pack member, making this our forth pack of the day! As it ended up, the snow was a bit deeper than we expected. After a mile and a half, we had to turn back at an impassable stream.

 

Tonight the storms started coming up. We were present to watch eight of the Slough Creek adults head out for a hunt before dark. Tonight marks the first night we haven't seen a moose on the way back to Cooke City.

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