DAY SEVEN - Friday, May 26


I’m happy to report my legs are a bit better today. And my luck provides a look at the local fox this morning, too!

I start at Doug’s lot once again.

He tells me a black and a gray just escorted a black bear to the east. The first wolf I see is the black coming back from that task. It beds on the gully ridge.

Our radios crackle to life. A new bison carcass, with wolves on it, has been found south of Fisherman’s.

I am debating whether or not to go back to Lamar when 907 settles it for me by coming out of the den with both pups! OK I’ll stay here!

She beds near the den opening with her feet in front of her, Sphinx-like. I am thrilled to watch both the little wobblers as they climb all over her. So cute!

The black pup cuddles under her chin for a bit. She is so calm with them. What a good mom!

Several other wolves are nearby, attentively watching the pups. Their tails wag, clearly indicating their interest in the little ones. These adults follow them wherever they go. This is another thing I love about watching wolves. They just love puppies. Some are calm, some over-involved, some are hesitant and even a bit confused, but they all pay attention!

1276 appears – she was likely bedded somewhere out of sight until now. Both mothers nuzzle the pups. 1276 takes a nursing stance and the pups move quickly to her to be fed.

Throughout the morning we get good, clear glimpses of the pups in action. The glimpses are all too brief, but they last long enough to tell us both pups are perky and healthy.

Around 9AM, the limping gray leaves the group at the den and heads downslope in the direction of the flats. I think his limp is noticeably better: he can stand and walk on the bad foot now, but still lifts it when he trots.

The limper is soon followed downhill three wolves; a collared gray (1341 or 1384), a dark black male (different from the “dark black” I saw yesterday) and 1276F.

As 1276 leaves, 907 stands up and begins to howl. The other collared gray nearby joins her and, to our delight, the gray pup lifts its adorable nose in the air, joining in with its high-pitched sweet little voice.

A little later, 907 ushers the pups back into the den and follows her pack mates down to the flats. She takes her time but arrives at the carcass with the others. All five wolves feed amicably for quite a while. The two mothers stay the longest, tugging and chewing and getting along just fine.

Near the den, Mocha appears from somewhere, as does an uncollared gray. They both bed near the den opening and the pups come out briefly.

By 10AM both moms have returned to the den, bedding down on either side of the opening. 907 likes the right side best.

Things quiet down so we look around for other critters. Besides the usual elk, pronghorn, bison and geese, Larry spots a beaver in the quiet slough closest to us. Someone else finds a badger, sniffing through the sage. I find two pelicans on the creek and Linda finds a great blue heron.

We also have the flock of yellow headed blackbirds and are serenaded off and on by a lovely meadowlark.

Around 11:30 I head to Lamar. It’s probably too late for me to see any wolves on the Fisherman’s carcass but since it’s a bison, I’ll have another chance to check it tonight. It will likely draw bears as well, and may last for another couple of days.

On my way through the Canyon I take a look at the big indicator rock. The two pieces of “driftwood” are still on top. The water is high but looks like it’s receded a bit. I think we’re going to be safe from a major flood this year.

At Fisherman’s I find plenty of room to park, a sure sign that the sighting is about over. Dallas and Jason from Tennessee are here and show me where to look. The carcass is in the flat, just out from the bottom of Jasper Bench in a very marshy spot.

A collared black is feeding when I arrive. The other wolves that had been on it this morning have long since moved upslope to bedding spots to digest their meals. They are apparently out of sight somewhere on Jasper Bench. Soon, the black leaves and goes in the same direction.

The wolf stops half-way up to howl a few times. I don’t hear a response, but I think the wolf does, because it turns east and continues climbing. A light drizzle begins so I grab my jacket and scope-cover.

A few bison wander towards the carcass for a funeral. I try to see if I can find the eagle nest from this angle and to my surprise, I do! I find both adults and one of the two chicks.

Then someone calls “wolf”. A gray appears right near the river. I’m not sure where it came from. It moves slightly right, then turns and aims for the carcass. It has a sniff but doesn’t stop. Hmm. I guess this wolf is already full.

The wolf now heads northeast, wading through several flooded, braided channels of the river. It reaches the main channel and swims across. It looks like this wolf wants to go north.

Numerous people get in their cars and drive east, I guess in hopes to see this wolf when it crosses the road. I suspect they will only cause the wolf to change its mind.

The wolf exits the river and disappears behind the hill below Dorothy’s pullout. About 5 minutes later, the wolf reappears. Just as I thought, the wolf has changed its mind about going north.

It goes down to the river, swims across and shakes off. Now it basically retraces its steps to the south aiming for the carcass once more.

It passes the carcass for a second time and heads upslope at a good clip. It stops to howl a few times just like the black did. Soon it changes its angle, aiming for the west end of the bench. In another minute, this wolf is gone.

The rain has stopped and after a while, I drive east. For the first time in a while, the Confluence is clear of a jam-up. Either the bear is out of sight, or the rain drove people away.

Just south of the Cone I spot a different grizzly, perhaps the same one Bill showed us last night. There is no one behind me so I stop just east of the Cone to watch this bear through my binocs for a while.

He moves in to the trees and I continue east to Silver Gate.

During dinner, we talk about how lucky we are to have a “close” bison carcass to watch, far enough away for the wolves to not be bothered by us, yet close enough for good viewing. And with plenty of parking!

We are all looking forward to spending an hour or two at Fisherman’s watching wolves.

It’s a warm 62 as I head west. The Baronette fox is again in the Moose Meadow area. I am struck by the lush, bright green of the grass all the way down. It looks particularly nice in Ice Box canyon.

When we reach Fisherman’s I get quite a surprise. The bison carcass is now an exposed backbone with slightly pink rib bones. That is all that’s left. Not even the hide remains.

Either the Junctions were very hungry or else this was an emaciated bison to start with.

None of us has never seen an adult bison carcass disappear so quickly. I start to wonder if it was killed the night before and maybe had bears on it overnight? But neither Laurie, Rick nor Bill had any report of that. Still, most bison carcasses, even when feasted upon by bears and wolves last a few days. This one is down to bare bones in less than 24 hours!

Finally, a coyote wanders by but it only stays a few minutes.

Ah well. I amuse myself by finding the eagle nest again.

I drive slowly back east enjoying all the sights and sounds of Lamar Valley. And I see the fox again, this time quite near the entrance gate.

Today I saw: A badger, a beaver, bison (and calves), 10 yellow headed black birds, coyotes, 3 bald eagles (including one chick), elk, a fox, a meadowlark, a pelican, pronghorn, 12 Junction wolves (including 907F, 1276F, 1341F, 1383F, 1384F, dark black yearling, mocha, limper, both pups, plus a collared black and an uncollared gray in Lamar) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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