DAY FOUR - Friday, May 14

A TEMPORARY TRUCE


I leave extra early today, around 5:10. Itís 36 and feels very warm.

I join the regulars on our current favorite hill; Susan & Reve, Frank, Rick & Jeremy.

My first wolf is an uncollared black coming up the lion meadow carrying a small leg assembly. As it gets closer, the alpha female comes out of the natal den and a few pups appear. The arriving wolf draws the attention of two additional blacks previously unseen.

The arriving wolf goes first to the boulder below the cliff, where the alpha female is waiting. She gets a feeding and then arriving wolf carries the leg up to the den.

Another black appears to the east of the horizontal forest, bedding near a double trunked tree. I suggest that wolf may have been feeding on the bison carcass in the creek.

A grizzly sow with two coy are spotted to the south, so we spend the next hour pivoting between the bears and the wolves.

1228F arrives from the south, dutifully bringing food to the hungry group of mothers and babysitters. Then here comes 907F trotting in from the west. Maybe she was at the bison carcass too?

She goes straight to the den and the pups come out to greet her. Awww! She nurses them a while, then moves to the right along the trail she takes up the cliff. She sits on her haunches as if encouraging them to travel to her. And to our delight, they do just that. My pup count rises to 6, 3 of each, while others with me counted 7 (4 grays).

907 eventually moves back to the den and nurses them again for a while. She stands at a bit of slant, which helps the pups since they seem to be of varying sizes. The slant helps them all get an equal chance.

I notice a few early wildflowers are beginning to bloom under our feet: pink shooting stars, blue forget me nots and white spring beauty.

When 907 beds down, the pups are visited by a 2 year old gray male (I call him the beautiful gray). This handsome wolf takes a walkabout above the den cliff later.

Black yearling 1275M is among the cast of babysitters today. He gets snapped at by the alpha female at some point. He takes it in stride and Iím not sure what his infraction was.

The drab gray is also here this morning. Drab gray is quite scrawny (he has some mange) and seems the most eager for food.

To the south, the bear family stays in view a long time. Her darling cubs delight us as they romp across the remaining snow fields with great joy. People ooh and ahh.

The black wolf bedded near the double trunked tree gets up and travels to the den area but I lose track of where exactly he ended up. I think this might have been 1048M.

Two of the gray adults play together in the spring meadow, one collared, one not, putting on a delightful show.

When the pups are on the den porch, we notice a few of them climb around as much as their short, wobbly legs will let them, some above the den and some below.

But what really pleases me today is that the alpha female and 907 seems to be getting along today. We witness no pinning at all. 907ís whole demeanor is relaxed and confident.

Maybe the alpha female has had an epiphany?

Chloe & Becky arrive, unexpectedly. There is no room for their van in our lot so they go to the gravel pit. I head down the hill to say hi and to catch up on their medical adventures. They are both doing very well.

The day has warmed to a very pleasant 64 degrees. While we chat, we see bison and pronghorn and a few sandhills.

I explain to B & C that I need to get back to Silver Gate to pack and clean, before heading back west to Bozeman. Iím so glad I got a chance to visit with them, however briefly, and glad that they will get a chance to watch wolf puppies for a while.

Just outside the NE gate I see a moose and yearling calf.

On my way back west I get stuck for a while in a sheep-jam at Junction Butte. Itís a sizeable herd of ewes and lambs Ė oh, so cute!

The rest of my drive to Bozeman is easy with clear weather and light traffic.

Today I saw: 3 grizzlies (including 2 coys), bison, elk, 2 moose, bighorn sheep (including lambs), 16 Junction wolves including the alpha female, 907F, 1228F, 1275M, the beautiful gray male, the drab gray and four other black adults, plus 6 pups 3/3) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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