Yellowstone wolf watching early January 2007

The first day of our wolf watching we only saw a few wolves, high on a ridge, but we were quite excited at having seen them, even briefly. Little did we know that we would spend the whole next day at a turnout in Lamar Valley, watching a wolf pack on the far side of a valley across from the Lamar Buffalo Ranch.

If you stand on sections of insulating sleeping pads it helps keep your feet less cold.

Yellowstone winter wolf watchers Lamar valley buffalo ranch: Yellowstone wolf watchers lined up with spotting scopes:

Well across the Lamar Valley we could see a live nature video unfold with tiny animals in the distance from the naked eye, animals clearly visible through binoculars and quite close up through spotting scopes.

long shot of Lamar valley yellowstone winter: wolf watcher with Lamar Valley in background:

Some of us tried to set our digital cameras up with the spotting scopes and got a few decent pictures.

All photos below by Mark Ellwein.

The Slough Creek pack had taken down a bison and were feeding. The elderly alpha male of the Slough Creek pack was missing and a young male from the Agate pack (this part of winter is mating season) had started traveling with the then all female Slough Creek pack. Ravens and Magpies were scavenging alongside the wolves. A bald eagle and a golden eagle also came to eat, but we missed pictures of them.

Lamar Valley early 2007 wolves and bison Mark Ellwein:
Slough Creek pack at bison carcass with Ravens and Magpies Mark Ellwein:

After taking turns eating heavily, the wolves sat aside from the carcass to digest. They spent some time greeting each other, and in the second picture below you can see an alpha female from the Slough Creek pack with her legs over the the young Agate Creek male, a sign of acceptance.

wolves meeting again after kill and feeding early 2007 Mark Ellwein: Slough creek female with legs over visiting male Mark Ellwein: wolves Lamar Valley January 2007 Mark Ellwein:

Coyotes also wanted to feed on the bison, but kept their distance initially. (Coyotes in foreground, wolves in background of photo below.)

Lamar Valley Slough Creek Pack with coyotes in foreground Mark Ellwein: three coyotes Lamar Valley early 2007 Mark Ellwein:

Below a NPS drawing showing the size comparison of a wolf, coyote and a fox, from the handbook at:

wolf, coyote, fox size comparison NPS drawing:

One young coyote came in to try to eat and the Slough Creek alpha females jumped up, then with the rest of the pack following, chased the coyote down and tore it to pieces in seconds. Later the wolves let the coyote pack feed on the last of the bison.

A few hundred yards away, a weakened elk cow, with an obvious large injury, was being trailed closely by coyotes, seen howling in the picture below:

injured elk cow and howling coyotes Lamar Valley Jan 2007 Mark Ellwein:

see also: Soda Butte Creek animal tracks, ouzels and coyote, winter

WOLF links:

The International Wolf Center provides complete wolf information on wolf biology, their environment and interaction with humans.

The mission of the National Wildlife Federation is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.