All photos by
Tim Springer
Christine Baleshta

   We watched the Druid Pack this morning around 8:30 a.m. from Hikers Bridge Turnout. 255F was not there, supposedly back at the den with the pups. There have been reports that both she and 286F had pups this year. We saw the new alpha male, 480M, and 302M as well as 286F and two pups, a gray and a black. 480M is a big wolf, a black/brown color. The wolves are losing their winter coats and some of the black wolves have a rich brown color in their fur, much like chocolate labs. Most of the time 480M was bedded down on a grassy hill. There was a carcass in the area but only the ravens on it were visible. 302M is looking good. He has a very black face right now and a small white patch on his chest. 286F looks a lot like 21M as he got older, almost completely gray with a black/charcoal mask. I remember her being much darker last year and today I mistook her for 255F. The two pups are charcoal gay and a lighter gray. I believe these are the last offspring of 21M, a very sober thought. They are beautiful animals and filled with a pup's energy. We watched them play on a triangular patch of snow which was covered with a crust of ice. They rolled on their backs with 286F, and even slid down the ice on their sides. They seemed to be having a lot of fun. They played with a small object, maybe a pine cone, tossing it up in the air and catching it in their mouths, chewing it and swatting it on the ice like a hockey puck. 480M seems to be a very calm wolf. He remained bedded in the grass, except for walking over to the snow patch once to check on the yearlings. It was great to see the Druids, who are denned at Cache Creek, far from the danger of the Slough Creek Pack. As much as I like to see them, I am concerned for their safety. The pack is a lot smaller now, but all look healthy and happy, so maybe smaller is better. It rained from around 11:30 a.m. throughout the rest of the day, never stopping for long and too heavy to hike in. We drove around the Park, down to the junction for Canyon. We didn't see too much besides bison and elk, a trumpeter swan at Swan Lake Flats. Even at Slough Creek, the Slough Creek Pack avoided view, except for a brief showing by the puppies. We did see a grizzly foraging in the Lamar. The day ended well, though. A pair of coyotes was visible across from Soda butte Cone. We saw the male coming in from the west and followed him to where he met a female. There were five puppies that we could see. Little red-brown balls of fur who nursed from their mother as she stood, and climbed all over the other coyote (their father?). They are clumsy at this age, stumbling around in the sage and playing with each other, standing on hind legs and swatting each other. The male is light grey with a brown mask. The female is darker, a combination of grey, reddish brown, and tan. The male greeted the family and both adults played with the puppies. The adults then trotted up to the den, but couldn't convince the puppies to follow, so they trotted back to the puppies to a sort of rendvous site in the sage. The female left, perhaps to hunt or just take a break from the puppies, while the male was left to baby-sit the puppies.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2005