I contemplated the idea of not going into the park this morning, particularly after the fire in the wood stove reignited with a piece of wood and began to warm the house as if wrapping me in a blanket that was fresh out of the dryer.
But, I could not let go of the idea that something might happen between the two packs in Lamar – the Lamar Canyons and the Junction with 911 and 970. When we left them last night they were across the valley from one another and I wondered if 911 might decide to make a move on the valley. He and 970 have been living on the fringes of Lamar for quite some time and definitely eyeing the territory for themselves. But, then the Lamar Canyons went from two wolves to 8 and 911 and 970 have not been wandering through Lamar as often. Unfortunately, the acquisition of three yearlings and two or three pups could make 911 a little stronger than the Lamars and they could try to cause problems. Which is why I want them to pack up and leave.
So, I left late, just a little after sunrise and took the slow, leisurely drive through the park, hoping to spot something on my own. Got to thinking about how it had been a while since I had spotted a wolf and how kind of empty that felt.
My day took an up swing when I went by and discovered this nice bull moose in elk creek. Had him all to myself and from the sounds of it was the first to see the guy. He is not exactly a Teton moose but is getting closer than those three guys in Soda Butte Valley, which, by the way, were near Hitching Post this afternoon. Skinny guys! Anyway, traffic was quiet and so I was able to stop and visit with Mr. Bull for a while before proceeding on.
Got to Lamar barely in time to see the Junctions, 970 and 911 go over the ridge toward Slough and so I went to Lamar Canyon to look. Low and behold, there was a lone black wolf just on the other side of the river, bedded and howling from time to time. I knew that he wasn’t with the others and so let everyone know. There was two possibilities – the bitten black pup or 890. And, when he tossed his head back to howl it looked like he had a collar but I could not see the white box. When Laurie got there she saw the box and I could tell he was older – not a pup. I FOUND 890!
Yesterday I speculated that 890 was not far from his family and would not give up on them. But, we had not seen him for a while, as far as we could tell since his collar doesn’t work, and so did not know where he was. Luckily, I spotted him by himself, because otherwise he might have not been seen, considering where he was hanging out, or gotten confused with the others.
Just like wanting to see 870 yesterday, I so wanted to see 890. The two were not my favorites last year when they kept 755 from getting together with the black female but after watching them as a family, I grew quite fond of both of them. They have a more sensitive temperament than many of the others – from what I have seen from them. A lighter side.
I did get to see 890 retrieve two of the greys but it only lasted for a few moments. As they went behind a hill together I could see some licking and greeting going on. But, not far behind was 911 and the greys went back to the group, leaving dad behind. The whole group went down around some willows, where they might have been some sort of carcass and eventually bedded down, all spread out from one another. 890 bedded on a hill near where I found him. There was a brief period of howling between a couple of the group and 890 and then all settled down for awhile.
I did get to see 907 and 968 (black GPS pup) for a little while, way off in the distance.
So, I went for a drive and did find one Lamar. Apparently, the Lamars were heard howling through the night by those who were staying at the Buffalo Ranch. There must have been some talking going on between the two packs.
When I returned things were kind of the same and I argued with myself about going home to get some work done. I did leave but did not go far – but far enough for the group to have time to get up and chase two elk before disappearing into Crystal Drainage.
And then I was lucky enough to find 890 again, coming down towards where the group had been. But, then he got side tracked by some of the many elk in the area.
It was sort of surreal watching the events of the day unfold because there were 8 wolves in a pretty small area and many elk. The elk, for the most part, seemed unconcerned with the wolves and even bedded down for part of the day. The elk were confident that they would be okay but they also showed during the chases that they knew how to play the game.
I was surprised to see 890 begin to head up towards 4 elk cows that were far ahead of him on a steep hill. The elk were ready. But, even going through deep snow 890 was quite fast. He trailed them by a ways as they all eventually split off from one another. And, then he chose one to keep following and was quick enough to catch up to her for a time. But, he soon gave up on the elk and, in truth, it did not take the elk long at all to go back to not worrying about wolves, even though he was right there.
In the last shot (these were taken at a great distance) the elk begin to look like they are not too worried about the wolf.
After 890 gave up the chase he bedded for a time and began to howl in a mournful way. My heart is breaking for him because he wants his family back in a big way. Personally, I think that he will get them back and either reunite with 870 or mate with 907. It could be that 907 is 970’s pup and that she has kind of taken charge of the family for now, deciding that they are best off with 911 and 970. But, it will change and I don’t see 890 giving them up.
When he was done howling 890 began scent trailing his family and disappeared up Crystal Drainage.
And, I went home.