DAY TWO - Saturday, April 16


I’m up and out at 5:54 in a chilly 17 degrees.

I find a fresh two inches of snow on the car and wonder if I may have removed my snow tires a bit too early this year!

There is some stubborn ice on my windshield this morning, but Arrow’s heater finally removes it. I see fox tracks on the road.

The snow is easy to drive on and I enjoy seeing fresh tracks here and there. Besides the fox, I believe there are a pair of coyotes that travelled the road maybe an hour ago.

I have Lamar all to myself in the early light. So nice!

I see Doug at Slough. He has nothing yet. As I am setting up, Laurie radios to me: come to Tower.

Doug Mac has found the Rescue Creek pack on the lower western side of Vader hill. I see six (3 & 3); Jeremy has four & four, including 1272M, 1273M, 1278M and the alpha male. Neither female is present, which makes sense as they are likely in their dens (on Garnet Hill this year).

They howl, which is very nice. The pack is looking west and soon, the beautiful gray alpha male stands and starts to walk that way.

I move to Rick’s pullout as do several others. I see a gray, then a black, then a skinny collared gray moving west at a brisk clip.

Watchers at Elk Creek see them pass through the Junction Lake area. Others head to Hellroaring.

I get to Hellroaring too late. The Junctions were seen here briefly but have now moves further west.

I go to Lower because you can sometimes see further west from there but I get nothing. We try re-locating the Rescue Pack but find only elk. The sky darkens – looks like more snow is coming.

I go back to Hellroaring and scope from here with Laurie & Dan, Susan & Reve. A light snow begins to fall, diminishing the visibility. We see only elk and bison. It’s just after 9AM with a temp of 23.

We go back east to check Slough. Rick was here earlier and saw one black in the den area, very likely the alpha male. We think the alpha female is in the natal den and that he is stoically keeping watch.

I hear sandhills in various spots – such a telltale sign of spring in Yellowstone.

Then Dan finds the alpha male beneath 890’s tree. This is the third day he has been seen here, in almost the very same spot!

Now we head back east into Lamar. Jeremy has found wolf 1292F, a pregnant female of the Beartooth pack, near the confluence. We climb Geriatric and set up our scopes.

She is feeding on a pronghorn carcass and is being seriously harassed by four coyotes.

We also find bighorn sheep on Mt. Norris. Laurie and I notice that 1292 has “airplane ears” in which a wolf’s ears are flattened to either side (like plane wings). It’s a sign of discomfort. We don’t know if the discomfort comes from the harassing coyotes or being relatively close to the road. Maybe both.

I see her get bitten in the butt twice by the relentless coyotes. Each time she chases them, but they evade her. She finally grabs a leg assembly and heads towards the back of Chalcedony fan. She sits in the sage and feeds a while, then lifts it again and moves even further back. This second bedding spots suits the wolf and her ears return to their normal shape.

The chunk she carries has pink on it, and she settles down contentedly.

The coyotes are thrilled that she moved. I notice their faces are bloody. I suspect the kill was made by these coyotes and the wolf temporarily took it over, which prompted their righteous umbrage. But who knows? It’s just rare to see an adult pronghorn succumb to a canid at all.

We watch this min-drama for over an hour, before we decide to call it a day.

Today I saw: bison, 4 coyotes, elk, bighorn sheep, 8 wolves from three packs including six Rescue Creek (alpha male, 1272M, an uncollared gray, 1273M and 1278M plus another uncollared black), one Junction Butte (alpha male), one Beartooth (1292F) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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