All photos by
Tim Springer
Christine Baleshta

   Wednesday morning we see U-Black's puppies. It's 7:15 a.m. when we see four little black shapes stumble and roll around near the little tree we use to spot the den site. Features like eyes are not visible from this distance, but there is no doubt about those shapes, the tiny ears and tails and short legs. They romp around clumsily, rolling and crawling over 194M who lay there almost motionless. I saw him nuzzle a pup, the pup licking his face. They disappeared all too quickly into the trees. A black bear plods in and out of the trees below the den site, still a reasonable distance away. Unconcerned, Dad barely lifts his head and goes back to sleep.
    We return again around 6:30 p.m. and this time I count five! There are definitely three black and one dark grey with white on his hind quarters. Later three black puppies and two greys are confirmed. They run around the clearing and into the trees so much it's hard to keep track of numbers and colors. No adult wolves are seen in the clearing and the puppies disappear into the trees where perhaps a babysitter is watching.
    We are just about to leave the turnout when Tim spots a wolf flying across the meadow. Black and grey, it must be U-Black. She runs west and disappears behind a hill. Further down the road a cow elk dashes across the road with U-Black close behind. We zip down the road in the car and hike up one of the hills for a better view, but didn't see either again. The chase lasted only a few minutes.
    As we are leaving Little America a badger pops out of his den alongside the road. He digs and digs around his home, surrounded by tall, hay-colored grass. He is very light colored making the black stripes on his face striking. We watch him scurry back and forth and stop to look at us. Badgers are very reclusive, but this fellow seems quite congenial. Normally a badger would have jumped into its underground home to hide. Instead, this badger continues his home improvement project while we look on.
    On the way back, west of the confluence, 255F, 374M and 375F are traveling up the hill in a line towards the den site. 374M is lighter than 375F. 255F is small and grey and white. She has an unusual coat and markings, the charcoal and white mixed together. Out of all the wolves, she looks most like a dog to me. It's believed that she had a litter of pups this year, but without the support of her pack, probably lost them.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2004