It is 30 degrees this morning and felt colder than that,
especially standing out for a couple of hours in front of a spotting scope.
There is frost in the marshy meadow where we see the moose, but only one moose
is out this morning. We pass bison lying in the grass on the way to Soda Butte.
We can tell something is up by the time we reach Hikers Bridge.
The Teton Wilderness buses are pulled over and several people are
out with binoculars and scopes. Tim spots a black wolf traveling
along the ridge below Mt. Norris. He is following the path the
Druids take to Cache Creek. He sits down and looks back and soon
a gray wolf follows him. The gray has a very dark saddle and muzzle and dark legs.
They both move through the sage fairly quickly. I can't see a collar on either,
though I wonder if the black is 302M because he take every opportunity to sit or lie down.
We watch them travel west until they are out of sight.
At Coyote Bill and Jan have spotted a black wolf moving up Jasper Bench.
He is one part of a pair of wolves that Rick thinks has denned on Jasper Bench.
They are uncollared dispersers. Bill said the black wolf had tied with 527F of
the Slough Creek Pack who has had puppies this spring. 527F is called "Bolt"
by the wolf watchers because of a Z shaped marking on her leg. The black wolf
continues to move west and is visible for quite a while - until he slips over
the ridge toward Crystal Creek.
Little America is filled with bison and calves and pronghorn.
Passing Petrified Tree we notice people watching a black bear
in the meadow filled with deadfall, but move on to Hellroaring
because we hear the puppies are out. I am able to get a good look at the den today.
It's at the base of a tree with branches and slender logs in front of the opening.
A light gray wolf moves in and out of the den and just lies in front of it.
I see four or five black and gray puppies move around in the dirt in front of
the opening or crawl over the log. The den is hard to see and the puppies are
a little fuzzy. We go back around 5:30 and stay an hour, and although we have
the prime viewing spot with our scope, no wolves or puppies are visible.
We go back to see the black bear and find it's a sow and a two year-old.
The two bears move down to the grassy part of the meadow near some trees
where the cub climbs the tree. He sits in the tree with his back against
the trunk and his legs out. Black bears are so entertaining.
It's a beautiful day and we had good viewing this morning, so we drive past
Swan Lake Flats to Indian Creek to hike. There is a trail from the campsite
which follows the creek along an area where new evergreens are growing.
We see bison and unfortunately disturb an elk cow. There are two cows actually.
One cow leaps into the brush while the other stands her ground.
We pass in front of her while she follows us with her eyes.
It looks like she might be pregnant (I can never tell) and we don't want to disturb her,
so we back off the trail for a little while. When we return, she is still there lying down
comfortably in her clearing of trees. Elk often go away from the herd alone or with one
other cow to give birth. She does not seem afraid of us, just cautious.
Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer
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