INTRODUCTION and WOLF UPDATE
This trip was planned many months in advance, as part of a tradition started a few years ago in which my two sisters I get together for a "long weekend" once a year, in an agreed-upon location.
This time the visit was to be in Bozeman, at Wendy's West. My sister Cindy a graphic designer and artist, who lives within a subway ride of me in NYC, had never been to Bozeman or seen my place. And this would be her first real visit to Yellowstone. Elaine, a pediatrician, who lives in Cincinnati, had visited with her husband in October of 2007. We all looked forward to being able to spend time together and of course I wanted our visit to include time in the Park.
It was great fun for me to plan the visit, preparing my home, making lists of food items, clothing needs, and choosing a route that would give them a taste of the Park's variety without being overwhelming. I had to be careful to keep their comfort in mind rather than expect them to respond to the Park as I do.
We chose early June because we could all get away at that time and I thought it would offer a good chance for nice weather without the enormous summer crowds. Well, I couldn't have predicted the type of wet and chilly spring Yellowstone would have this year, so my "nice weather" hopes were thwarted.
Two weeks before I left, I had a personal setback when it became clear I had to say goodbye to my darling cat, Fredricka. She had turned 20 years old on the first of May, and was fading fast. I had a bittersweet last weekend with her, and then my wonderful vet arranged to come to my apartment, making her last hour as comfortable as possible for her and for me.
So my visit with my sisters took on an added emotional content but I knew that between being with them and being in Yellowstone I would find some comfort. Under these circumstances, I was especially glad that I had planned a solo return to the Park after my sisters had flown back.
The solo portion of my trip will read more traditionally to those of you who read my reports regularly. Oddly, I had very little of my usual wolf luck so it was a little disappointing, overall, but it was full of bears and that made me happy.
Since my last visit in April, the big news has been that two packs have selected densites in the Lamar Valley: the Silver Pack has chosen to den somewhere in the forested hill behind the old Druid rendezvous site. At the time of my June visit, the adults of this pack were being see somewhat regularly and were behaving as though they had pups. But it wasn't until after my visit that pups were first seen. As of this writing, they have four - two from each female.
The newly-named Lamar Canyon Pack (consisting of the 06 female, her mate alpha 755M (aka The New Black) and his brother 754M (aka Wedge) has denned in the old Slough Creek Pack area. They have four pups.
The Canyon Pack was hazed out of Mammoth, this time, thankfully, before the pregnant alpha female dug a den. She has since chosen a den location somewhere in Hayden Valley. They have 3 pups.
The Blacktail Pack had several pregnant females and probably dug several dens, but the weather has been so rainy that the Wolf Project plane has not been able to fly, so very little is known about whether they have pups or not and where the dens are. One interesting note: as of this writing (August) the formerly lone wolf "Narrow Blaze" seems to have joined the Blacktail Pack, which makes me wonder if he could be a son of 302. How I wish we had been privvy to that acceptance ritual.
Wolves have rarely been seen from Hellroaring pullout this spring, although there have been some sightings. Perhaps some of the surviving Cottonwood pack.
And on a sad note - the remains of 480M were discovered in June in the Hellroaring area. It is thought that he died many months earlier, during winter. The story of this wolf is the stuff of legends. He will not be forgotten.
And on a hopeful note, a lone black male with a bad case of mange has been seen in the Lamar on and off in the last week He has not been positively ID'd yet but I am hoping he is Triangle Blaze, a former Druid, who I saw save the life of his sister, 571. He deserves another chance.
Thanks this time to my two dear sisters, Cindy Busch and Elaine Busch Billmire, for flying all the way to Bozeman for our visit, and for being such good sports about the dreadful weather we had during our Park visit.
PLEASE COME BACK! 8~)