Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reintroduction Of Wolves In Yellowstone

In early spring 1995, shortly after the first pack of Canadian wolves was released into the Lamar Valley, we traveled to Yellowstone to participate in the historic event. Wolves hadn’t been part of the Yellowstone Eco-System for nearly eighty years.

We stayed at Roosevelt Lodge and arose at 4:00 AM in order to drive to the Lamar Valley before dawn. Once in the valley, we drove back and forth looking for groups of naturalists with spotting-scopes. Fortunately, we found a large group listening to a Forest Ranger. He knew where to look and when. As he was telling us about the recent release, someone spotted the pack on the hillside clearing. Six wild gray, black and white Canis lupus! The Alpha male and female and their four gangly “teenagers” were sniffing and exploring in early light of dawn. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d see wolves in the wild. We were all awe-struck.

As remarkable as the spectacle was, it actually got better. Down through the trees into the clearing, came a mother Grizzly bear and her twin yearling cubs, recently out of hibernation. This was the first encounter of Yellowstone Grizzlies to the wolves, a brand new species in the Grizzlies’ minds. The Alpha wolf and the mother Grizzly faced-off, sniffing, snarling, grunting and woofing, while the teenagers circled the Grizzly cubs. The confrontation ended in a peaceful stand-off. The bears climbed back up the hill into the trees and the wolves settled down for a nap in the meadow. It all happened in less than ten minutes, but it was worth a lifetime of animal watching. This encounter can’t possibly be topped.

1 comment:

Chuck Cheesman said...

I stumbled on your blog this morning. What a great experience! I actually wrote a song about the wolf reintroduction, and I've been up to Lamar Valley a few times to watch the wolves. It's been too long and I need to get my family back there. Especially my daughter who is now old enough to understand what she's seeing.

Very nice blog.