I have been putting off this post for several reasons. One, because it means the end of the posts about Yellowstone and, thus, no more excuses to revisit on an almost daily basis. Two, because there is so much to say about wolves and I don’t think I could do the subject justice in the short amount of time I have to put into these posts. I will do my best, but don’t be surprised if you are wanting to know more about wolves when you finish reading. I will be adding some links for those of you who are intrigued enough about the subject.
The point of this tour was to see the wolves in their natural habitat during the winter months when it is (sometimes) easier to see them. We were told at the beginning of the trip that we were not guaranteed to see any wolves, but that we would see plenty of wildlife. If you have been following the past 10 posts, you will know that we did see wildlife in the form of moose, mule deer, porcupines, long horned sheep and bison amongst others. But the magic really started happening when I was able to see the wolves.
I am super aware that the re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone has stirred up huge controversies in our country. Farmers, conservationists and hunters all have a very emotional opinion about these animals, some with good reason, others, not so much. Wolves inspire fear, anger, love and/or joy in most people and conversations can become quite intense very quickly. And the dialogue recently became more heated when the federal government took wolves off the endangered species list. This means that it is up to individual states to allow hunting…which of course is what is happening. While it pains me to know that wolves are now being hunted (for sport!) I have no desire to get caught up in the struggle one way or another. I do, however, feel blessed to have had some time observing these creatures.
Wolves are at the top of the food chain and are amazing creatures. I don’t have enough knowledge to talk about them scientifically, just suffice it to say that they have changed the ecosystem in the park very dramatically in the relatively short time they have been there (They began to be reintroduced in 1994) Click here for an excellent synopsis of the history of wolves in Yellowstone.
So what about my experience???
Well, as I stated in my first Yellowstone post, I got to watch a wolf for an hour through a telescope before he went off to the hill to take a nap. He knew we were there so he stayed at quite a distance. I could see him as a dot with my naked eye but it took the scope to see him closely. Our guide was able to capture him with my iPhone through the scope, a feat I never was able to master. So I have pictures of him, along with a picture of their tracks in the snow.
There is quite the community of wolf watchers, all out there to observe behavior, take notes, and photograph them. These are the wolf lovers, the ones who have connected with the wolves on a deeper level, the ones who want to see new litters appear and grow up and form new packs. They are learning how to do this in a respectful and quiet way, and to respect the wolves’ privacy and shyness. Some of the wolves are tagged and have numbers, these people know what they look like and keep track of them. It’s a small group, but friendly and willing to share their knowledge with newbies out in the field.
Needless to say, it was a wonderful experience, one that I am so glad to have had. A trip worth remembering for many years to come.
here are more links for cool places to see and hear about wolves: