Wolves and Grizzlies–
Tuesday morning we took off for the Lamar Valley (one of the best places to see wildlife) at 5:00 am from our campsite at Mammoth Campground. We were in the motor home (we don’t have a tow car) and following the speed limits while driving very carefully to avoid injuring any animals. It takes about an hour for this trip. When we arrived at one of the best overlooks for wildlife viewing in the Lamar Valley there were already about 20 people there. The whole valley was totally socked in with pea soup fog! There we all stayed, waiting for the fog to lift so we could see into the valley. We could hear wolves howling but of course couldn’t see them.
Just to back up a minute…when we were here Monday evening we got a tip that brought us here this morning. Monday a bison was hit by a truck and this accident injured the animal’s leg. Injured animals just don’t last long in the wild. Any animal that dies in the valley is fair game for the other animals to eat, it becomes a food source. This is not heartless, it is just a fact. So we and most everyone else came to see if there was a carcass that would draw grizzlies and wolves as the last one did, according to what we heard.
When the fog lifted, we could see a bison laying down in the grass far out in the valley. Also, we could see two wolves heading back out of the depth of the valley and up a hill near their known denning area (they have numerous pups) and their rendezvous site. The injured bison was clearly alive as we could see it flick its tale and raise its head occasionally. Likely the wolves checked out the bison and found more life in it than they were willing to deal with. Bison are dangerous and difficult to kill. So we watched these two wolves climb the hill on the other side of the road and rendezvous with some other members of their pack. We were told that this is the Mollie pack and they will likely just watch the bison to see if it dies or becomes weak enough to be killed. So there on a hill was an easy to spot (if you had good binoculars or a good scope) seven members of a wolf pack. We could see the wolves howling, sitting watching the bison across the valley and laying down and resting. Turning in the opposite direction, we could also see a very large, lone grizzly across the valley on a high plateau digging for roots or grubs. We had a great time watching these two predator types functioning in the wild. Before we left, we could see the bison was on her feet and grazing so she may live for a while longer. Someone said they saw that one of the bison’s legs was swollen and an irregular shape but I don’t know the veracity of this information.
The Most Fun–
For two people who love to watch wildlife you would think that the most fun for us would be seeing the wildlife. Well, yes, we do so enjoy watching wildlife but that is not where we get the most enjoyment. The most fun us is having our very good Swarovski scope (20 to 60 power) trained on some very interesting wildlife and letting people who have not seen a bear or a wolf in the wild take a good look. I love the looks on their faces! As for kids (our favorite) we always bring out a stepping stool when we bring out the scope so the kids can climb up and see, then come back to the scope repeatedly and take a look at what is happening without help. This, to us, is pure joy. We pass around our binoculars as well. Most people are just like us the first time we were in Yellowstone. We arrived with what we soon called our “Micky Mouse” binoculars and no scope. We couldn’t see any wildlife through them. Other people were kind enough to let us look through their scopes and we were hooked! We knew that when we got better equipment that we would share as well and we do just that.
Some day we are going to have to get better camera equipment. Our camers will not cut it for distance pictures. We see some folks with these “National Geographic like ” cameras and know that with those extended lenses they can get really great wildlife pictures.
If you come to a place like Yellowstone and want to see wildlife either bring very good equipment or ask to take a look through someones scope. Sometimes, this is a chance of a lifetime and you should not let it pass without seeing this very important part of a Yellowstone visit. We find most people are willing to share. Don’t be too proud to ask.
This blog was posted today using our Millenicom/Samsung Hotspot from our campsite.