The sky was clear blue this morning, meaning bad light for photography, so I decided to stay in and get some more work done. And then I got a message that Quad Mom was out and close to the road. So, time to head for Swan Lake Flat to see the famous old mom who at one time had 4 cubs. In fact, she had 4 cubs the first time I came to Yellowstone for a visit and boy was she drawing the crowds!
And, she drew a crowd today, though I’ve seen larger bear jams. When I arrived the bears were fairly close to the road but it was tough to get a good spot for taking photos. And, because of the clear skies, and despite it being early morning, the heat waves were already causing problems. But, it was such a thrill to see the three bears still doing well and to see that mom’s head wound is healing nicely.
As the bears moved along I was able to get into a nice position that would have gotten me a good shot if she had come closer to my car but that was not meant to be. The bears began moving further and further back and on with their day.
So, I did as always and headed towards Lamar Valley but before getting there I was delighted to discover that coyote dad and one pup were at the den. We don’t know what has happened with the other pups, after they were visited by wolves yesterday, but someone saw two on the other side of the road. So, I am optimistic that they are fine. Though dad seemed nervous today and I’m not sure where mom was – probably with the other pups.
Coyote Dad and one pup silhouetted on a rock under a tree.
And then I did go into Lamar and some bison napping near the road in Soda Butte Valley were drawing a crowd so I pulled over to take a few shots. A bison a day makes the heart sing!
And then I headed towards home but it was a long, slow drive. Hot too!
There was a sow with coy west of the ranger station but I did not see which bear that was. Black bears.
Once again it was extremely crowded in the park. Mammoth was over flowing with visitors and traffic bumper to bumper. Have never seen this in June!
Wrote the following for a Facebook post but wanted to share here, for those of you who are wise enough to stay off of social media!
The Reality is that Yellowstone is Out of Control
I am in the park every day, trying my hardest to find a little slice of paradise away from the rudeness of humans. And, because I know the park so well, I usually do find those moments but it is getting harder and harder.
My mission has been to stay upbeat and positive – to tell you all about the wonders of Yellowstone and not give a hint of anything negative. But, those who have followed me for a long time know that I am not a good liar and that I like to keep things real and honest.
And, so, after it taking me 3 hours to drive home from Lamar Valley (normally about 1 hour 20 minutes) today, stopping and going as people slammed brakes without warning and parked in the road – some to look at a map, others to take in the view, and others to see why the others had stopped. Many just parking right where they stopped, blocking the lane, and hopping out of the car, oblivious to traffic or those of us trapped behind them. It is amazing more people don’t get hit by cars because they forget to stop and look. Or, those who are going to drive 20 mph in a 45 mph zone and the heck with us behind them – this is their vacation and they don’t have to move over for anyone – they are entitled to lead a line of 50 cars through the park, forcing everyone to join their vacation instead of having their own.
This entitlement generation is out of control. They are entitled to walk up and pet the deer, as I watched today. But, they speak French, not English and so they are not accountable. They are entitled to prevent myself and everyone else from enjoying their vacation while they stop in the road and demand to know what we are looking at. I was actively taking photos today, watching a coyote pup and so concentrating and waiting for it to come into the open, while a woman is screaming and demanding to know what I am seeing. So, I am supposed to be their tour guide and forget my own reasons for being in the park? And, if I don’t answer, well how dare I? How rude I am. What a bitch I am. But, if I answer I miss the shot and it is my moment to do my thing in the park. My free tour guide business is closed when my eye is at the back of my camera and finger is on the shutter. Don’t mean to be rude, myself, but why should I be expected to drop everything, every conversation, every photo, every moment of quiet, to answer questions yelled at me from the road by people who can’t even say hi or excuse me?
But, all of that rudeness – that is so minor compared to the dangerous activity I see of people getting too close to wildlife – come on now, petting a deer? Stopping in the road. Sightseeing while driving an RV in my lane? Taking photos while driving? Lives are being lost and folks are not paying attention – they just keep right on doing what they want to do. Keep right on hiking without bear spray.
The bottom line is that this behavior will ruin it for all of us. There is no way that this level of visitation and people doing whatever they want can be sustained.
And, I do understand getting excited and losing yourself. I understand it well. But, if we all want to keep the privilege of enjoying Yellowstone then we need to take some steps back and maybe not get everything that we want right now. People blatantly breaking the rules, and continuing to do so even after being warned, will ruin it for all of us. They will do their thing, get what they want and not have a care in the world of what happens after they leave.
We all break the rules and every time we do so we risk injury or death to ourselves, someone else or an animal. Do we mean harm? Most likely no, though there are a few that make me wonder. The man was thrilled to pet the deer and his wife equally so to take his picture while doing so. We need to calm our excitement and get out our common sense – there is no way in the world, in any society, that it is appropriate to stop and park your car in the road so that you can get out and run to take selfies with the animal. Blocking others from enjoying their day? Come on now – those are manners from first grade.
You are out in the park with thousands of other people and if we all try to use some common sense, kindness and self control, while being considerate to others, then we can all have a good time.
Meanwhile, my horn might wear out by the end of the season and the b word might get permanently tattooed on my forehead. I find it so hard to be polite to people who are being rude and demanding of my time. Ask nice – pull over and park – we love to help if we have time and aren’t busy.
Most of all, stay safe and don’t harass the wildlife. Those animals are not your playthings.
I sincerely, between the very hot weather and the record crowds in early June, am not sure how I can keep doing this. It is pretty tough to enjoy watching this complete lack of respect towards other humans, safety, nature and wildlife.
My rant is over – Thought it would be good for you to get this perspective from another park visitor/photographer, who was recently out there trying to take some photos and enjoy the park. There are many people who are concerned about what they are seeing and it is the main topic of conversation.
I should add that I do believe the rangers are being more than fair this year, while being stern about rules, such as stopping in the road. They have been patient and really doing their best to help people enjoy the wildlife while staying safe. I have not had any negative ranger experiences this year.