Busting Loose in Yellowstone

Bull elk in Lamar River with magpie on its butt
Bull elk in Lamar River with magpie on its butt

Burrrrr!  Cold.  Eighteen degrees when I left home and 1 degree in Lamar Valley where, once again the Lamar Canyons held our attention for hours and hours.

Apparently, Rick arrived in time to watch 925 and 926 try to take down this bull elk in the Lamar River and tried to keep traffic back so no one would interfere with the process but that didn’t work out.  The alphas, on the south side of the road, eventually took to the tree line where we lost them for quite some time until Amy spotted the pair beneath a tree.

Meanwhile, on the hill to the north of the road, were six pups who wanted mom and dad.  We had howl fest for quite some time but there was no reply from the alphas.  Eventually, the pups resigned to their abandonment and went higher up the hill to bed down and rest up for the next howl fest.

And even more meanwhile, the bull elk stood in the river.  I heard Rick say that it had been injured and that did appear to be the case when it tried to walk.  The elk could walk but seemed to be having troubles stepping up out of the river.  Not that the poor guy felt like he could go anywhere.  The alphas weren’t all that far away and somehow the elk knew that.

I do believe that now that the bison bull is feeling better, the nasty magpie found its way to the bull elk and got quite brazen by pecking at its butt.  This did not go over well with the bull and he had to shoo the magpie away several times.

And then the pups were up and howling again, for a very long time.  Finally, mom answered and she decided to make her way over to them.  The pups came down the hill and looked like they were thinking about joining the alphas, while mom was going in the opposite direction to her favorite crossing place.  Of course, when mom went to cross there were several people parked there and out of their cars.  Luckily, she made it on over and up to the pups, while no way was dad going to try a crossing.  I did hear that he eventually made it to his family.  So, perhaps the bull elk got away this time?

Coming down closer after howling for mom and dad
Coming down closer after howling for mom and dad
The six pups
The six pups

Mom greeted the pups and they went and hid for awhile before eventually re-emerging on the hillside and traversing one by one.  Quite a beautiful line of wolves in the white snow.

I moved on to Little America and looked for 870.  She was in the same general area but we never could locate her.  I sure do hope she is okay.

By the way, moose still in Round Prairie and I did not see the otters today.  The big horns are finally coming down to the Confluence area and the golden eagles are hunting ducks.

Apparently, a rock way out at Hell Roaring got up and started walking around.  Eventually they discovered that what they had thought was several rocks was actually 14 wolves.  The Prospect Peaks made their way to the west and out of sight.

Today 755 was back in the Hell Roaring area but still not spotted.  He was heading west.

And, Kiera had signals from 712 in Mammoth but he was not spotted either.

No word on the Junction Buttes or 911’s group – still don’t know what is going on there.

Unfortunately, a bull bison lost his life today when he stepped into Blacktail ponds and could not get back out.  This is a gruesome death to watch and I am thankful to have arrived after the bull was dead.  He was surrounded by family that did not want to leave him.

I watched for quite some time as a pretty little cow tried and tried to get him up.  She was licking him, pawing at him, trying to lick the ice away.  I swear that I saw her cry twice.  I have seen them upset before but have never seen this much effort to get one back up.  I was afraid she too would be falling through the ice.  And then a young bull came and tried to get the dead bull up as well.

The cow left and went and got another group of bison and brought them over to pay their respects.  This just tears me up – how close they are to one another, how much family means to them and how much they mourn death – and 900 will be put to their death this year.  Think of all of the torn up families and the mourning.

Bison bull rubbing his head against a dead bull that fell into Blacktail Ponds and died
Bison bull rubbing his head against a dead bull that fell into Blacktail Ponds and died

Enough of the bull was above the ice that there will be predators having a feast.  So, what to do.  Visit the Lamars again or take a chance that some others will be in view?

I will let you know tomorrow.



2 thoughts on “Busting Loose in Yellowstone

  1. Amazing post and photos. It’s a shame people can’t respect bison as well as wolves outside of Yellowstone like they’re respected inside of Yellowstone. They have hard enough lives as it is. Thank you for the post Deby.

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