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John Tangney | profile | all galleries >> YellowStone N.P. Elk/Wolves Feb 2012 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

YellowStone N.P. Elk/Wolves Feb 2012

This gallery is just for the last portion of our last day at Yellowstone National Park, on Feb 5, 2012 at about 9:15 AM. Earlier we took part in a 3 day Yellowstone Association Winter Wolf Discovery tour (which was great, and yes we saw wolves). Then we took a snow coach To Old Faithful Snow Lodge for two nights to give us time to hike the geyser basin there. Finally a snow coach back to Mammoth Hot Springs, and then, since our flight home out of Bozeman was not until 3:45 PM, we got up early and drove into Lamar Valley for one more chance to see wolves and other wildlife. As we passed the “Slough” parking area, it was totally jammed as people were seeing the Molly pack from there (though at quite a distance). Since there was no place to park, we went on. As we came to the East end of the Lamar Valley, we parked in the last turnoff on the North side, just before the big “Hitching Post” turnout. As with earlier in the week, there were some Bighorn Sheep rams on the hillside, so we got out to take photos of them and the frosted plants next to the river there. While photographing the sheep, suddenly from the right side of the hill came a Bull Elk with a pack of wolves at its heels! It was the Lamar Canyon pack, and they passed across the hillside right in front of us and the few other people there. They were probably less than 40 yards from us at one point! It took them about 10-15 seconds to cross the hillside as they chased the elk up to the edge of a cliff on the left side of the hill. They do sometimes chase wildlife over cliffs as a hunting technique. However, this time, the elk stopped at the edge of the cliff and turned to face the pack. Since the wolves could no longer get to its hind quarters, now they had to face his antlers and front hooves! In the end, in spite of 8 wolves (in various photos from my camera and Janet’s, we were able to identify 8 different wolves) to one elk, the wolves had to give up, with many of them showing wounds of their own. The elk had a large gash of flesh torn out of his right rear leg, but he survived! Whether that leg heals right or he is attacked again later as that leg stiffens up while healing, we have no idea, but as we left the area, he was a survivor!

Images that start with JT7 are mine, using Nikon's 70-200 VR II lens with a TC 1.7 attached. Those that start with JT3 are Janet's, using Nikon's 18-200 VR lens.
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