DAY TEN - Tuesday, May 2

AN UNFORTUNATE DEVELOPMENT

Well, my legs are bad again today so I am determined to return to Bozeman today, and start some PT sessions.

Itís warmish again at 38 degrees. I drive straight to Slough this morning and set up in my usual spot. My first wolf is an uncollared black moving east between the western and eastern trees.

1276 comes out of sage den, looking antsy. She trots up to 890ís tree, then stops and turns around coming back down the hill quickly. She disappears into the gully. A gray yearling bolts out of the gully with 1276 close behind. She wants a feeding! The gray tries to take refuge behind 890ís tree.

Iím not sure if 1276 succeeded or not because the next thing she does is chase after 1382. The former alpha tucks her tail and tries to scramble away but 1276 catches her and pins her. Iím pretty sure 1382 gives her something.

Next 1276 heads up towards the natal den. I wonder if sheís going to ask 907 for food, too? But what happens next confuses us all.

She goes inside the natal den. Soon she comes out with something in her mouth. Is that a pup? Itís small and doesnít move. She carries it down slope towards the western trees and I lose her at the bottom for a few minutes.

The returns to the natal den. We donít see 907. People are wondering what is going on. If she was carrying a pup, was it alive or dead? What did she do with it? Where is 907?

1276 emerges from the natal den with another small thing in her mouth. This time she travels down the bracken hill. She emerges near The Boulder and I see her lower her head. A black yearling moves over to that area and I see the yearlingís head is down too.

1276 seems to be digging. Is she burying a dead pup?

After this she goes back to her own den and disappears inside.

Where is 907?

This is an unsettling development.

Later in the day we see a collared gray come out of the natal den. At first we think itís 907 but itís not. Itís either 1341 or 1384 (they look nearly identical, same collars, same gray coloring. The only difference is that 1341 is three and 1384 is two).

The regular wolf watchers donít know what to make of this situation. We review what we saw earlier and sadly come to the conclusion that two dead pups were carried out of the den. How did they die? We may never know.

Itís sad to leave the Park on this note but it looks like I will have to put the mystery aside for a while and go back to Bozeman.

I drive back to Silver Gate to pack up with a heavy heart. I hope 1276ís pups are healthy!

While I am packing, Laurie learns from the wolf project, that 907 was at Hellroaring this morning with other Junctions. That, by itself, indicates she no longer has living pups. She would not have been away from them that long if they were alive.

As I drive west once more through Lamar Valley, I can almost see the remaining snow withering under the warm sun. I see little streams flowing everywhere, and bright green grass emerging beyond the roadside.

I would estimate that more than half the snow in Lamar is gone.

At Mid-Point, a huge shallow pond has formed, and itís full of chorus frogs, singing away.

The limping coyote is monitoring the road again and as I wait for the light in the Canyon, I note how frothy and brown the water is.

In Little America I get stuck in a bison jam. Well, really, itís more of a phone-photo jam. The bison are not blocking the road, itís drivers in cars blocking the road instead of using the pullouts, while they take photos.

All through Little America I see melt-water ponds have formed in places that havenít held water in years! They all have chorus frogs. I canít help but wonder, where have the frogs been all this time?

On the Blacktail I notice the sky to the west is dark and threatening. The rain starts around Phantom Lake; big fat drops, then out comes the sun again!

There is a definite tinge of green in Mammoth, and itís even more pronounced along the old/new road.

I see a big herd of elk near the main gate and various mule deer, too.

Several miles outside of Gardiner I drive through a sudden dust storm, thick enough to force me to stop. Luckily there is no one behind me. I put on my flashers and hug the white line and the shoulder.

Itís over quickly but my car is now plastered with red-brown dirt!

The rain soon returns and stays with me the rest of the drive. When I reach Bozeman, I find it transformed. All the snow is gone, the trees are leafing out, there is green everywhere. What a welcome sight!

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, mule deer, elk, 6 Junction wolves (including 1276F, 1382F, 1384F, 2 uncollared blacks and 1 uncollared gray) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.


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