DAY TWO - Thursday, December 22

LAMARS AND A COUGAR KILL

Itís minus 15 but thankfully the car starts up just fine. Itís 7AM. Boy do I miss those heated seats!

Rick B & Kara are out already. They like to see the stars and to look for tracks in the snow. My temp gauge reads minus 20 at Trout Lake and there is a fine mist rising from the creek.

I find Kara in the same lot where I was last evening. She says the Lamars have been visible on and off, still enjoying their carcass. I see Husky black pinning both of the other males. At times they are both on their backs, legs in the air. Despite this, 949 looks a bit cheerier today. 926 is flirting up a storm with Husky and he seems to like it.

We watch for about an hour and then they begin to head east. I love seeing wolves in a line moving past aspen trunks. It looks so cool! The sun is out but itís still quite cold! Some people get in their cars to warm up and then head east to Round Prairie. I decide to go west instead.

The sky is clear and bright blue, but boy, it is cold. The mist continues to hug the creek. It fills the confluence and then remains along the Lamar. Sometimes the fog spreads all the way to the road.

I stop at Slough and warm up by hiking out to Bobís Knob. The Prospect wolves that I saw yesterday do not have any working collars so itís anybodyís guess if they are still out here.

But, nope, they are not. I hike back and head further west.

Nothing at Boulder, Elk Creek nor Hellroaring. But when I drive past the Elk Bowl (Geode area) I notice birds squabbling on the steep hillside to the north. I pull over in the small lot and walk back down the road to inspect it. Aha! I see pink in the snow. The remains of something lies in disturbed snow about halfway up the hill. It looks semi fresh to me. I am about to radio Rick when he drives around the corner. I flag him down and show him. He suggests we inspect it more closely, so we walk carefully up the hill and sure enough, we find hide, a rib cage with a bit of frozen pink meat remaining, a couple of hooves, a rumen pile and several additional bloody spots in the snow.

I suggest itís a cougar kill and Rick agrees. You can see the trail of pursuit down the steep hill. You see first contact Ė blood in snow, then several feet below you see packed down snow and pink spots where the poor animal (judging from the hooves, it looks like a mule deer) went down.

Then another spot where part of the animal was either dragged or fed upon or both.

Rick is happy that I found it and says he will call it in to the Cougar researchers. There are two collared cats in the area, both with kittens to feed! I stop again at the Childrenís Fire Trail and scope a while with my Silver Gate housemates, Kara and Rick B. Kara finds a coyote, then a fox, then two more foxes! So I have a Three Dog Day! The foxes are hunting close to a bison herd. We speculate that perhaps the bisonís hooves disturb rodents in their underground dens and the foxes take advantage?

I mention the cougar kill so when we decide to head back east we stop there. They find tracks in the snow at the edge of the road. One adult lion plus at least two kittens! I did not think to look for tracks when I was here with Rick, so Iím glad Kara remembered! While we are investigating, I look up to skyline again and see a coyote looking down at me. I guess he can smell that there is something to eat nearby!

Now we hear a report of otters at Lamar River Bridge so we head that way. But before we get there we stop at jam at Tower. There is a bit of back and forth going on between three coyotes and a single fox. By the time we get to Lamar Bridge, the otters are long gone. We do see their tracks, though.

I stop again at Soda Butte East but the Lamars are not in view. Another guide, Ken, is here so we make a plan to stay in touch over the radio. I move on to Round Prairie while he stays at SBE. I find a coyote and a moose and radio to him. He brings his clients here to see my two animals, then they go back to SBE.

I start talking to some Indian photographers from Michigan who are just blown away by the Park. And they are used to cold so it doesnít bother them. Just as I am about to leave, Ken calls to say the Lamars are coming back to their carcass.

So I head back there and the Michigan guys come too. We see the wolves for a few seconds but they soon disappear into the creek corridor. I end up climbing a snowbank in order to see them.

I see all five. They eat for a while and then move uphill and slightly west. I get to see them walking past the tree trunks again, so Iím happy. I leave around 4 and get to Silver Gate just before dark.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, 4 foxes, a moose and 5 Lamar Canyon wolves (including 926F, Little T, 949M, Husky Black and Small Dot) and the spirit of Alison




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