Day Four - Friday, May 6


MYSTERIOUS MOLLIE

Alas, this is my last day. I set out at 5:25 and it feels warm already.

I stop at Soda Butte East to see if the two Lamars are around, but no luck. Next stop is at Slough, where I spend the next 3 hours. My first wolf is an un-collared gray yearling sitting on the porch. A black pup wiggles out and the yearling licks it eagerly. The pup then crawls up over the grayís shoulder. So cute!

Then two more wolves come in from the west, both carrying meat. The conveyor belt is going! 907 goes to the sage den and digs a bit, then takes a nice long drink at the spring.

There is a haze in the sky today. I canít figure it out but Doug thinks itís from some enormous fires in Alberta, Canada. The haze actually obscures the sun. It doesnít smell like smoke but itís quite noticeable to the eyes.

We do not see the mama griz this morning, but we do see a solo grizzly wandering about near the zig zag creek. Unlike the one the other day, this one heads east away from the wolves. Or maybe it IS the same bear who has learned its lesson!

We see an immature bald eagle in a tree, several meadowlarks and some grazing elk. And of course, the ubiquitous bison.

There is a bit of excitement when 890 comes in from the west, carrying food for his family. He makes it to the western trees where he is mobbed by both moms. He later appears below the den and settles down in his bedding spot under the eastern trees.

There is a lot of talk today about a bison cow who died giving birth yesterday, south of the road between Dorothyís and the institute. Last evening I noticed people were lined up there, waiting for some predator to discover it. But no bears or wolves have done so, yet. We also hear a report of a black wolf visible from Dorothyís So I head there with Laurie & Dan.

We stop at Dorothys. Bill is here Ė heís the one who called in the wolf sighting. There is a single coyote on the dead bison but nothing else.

Bill has lost the wolf but tells us where he saw it last. Dan sets up and finds him on Amethyst bench. Heís a big black fluffy wolf, no sign of mange and thanks to Dan I see him for a brief moment. Laurie says itís probably a Mollie. We see it running with something in its mouth, then it stops and seems to eat whatever it was carrying. Then it moves again and stops to eat again, then picks it up and disappears into the treeline.

Laurie thinks the wolf has a bison calf carcass and wonders if there might be a den in the forest. She reasons why would the wolf carry the carcass anywhere instead of just eating it? I donít know the answer and I donít think we ever found out.

Kathie joins us and we find a coyote family. First we saw a pronghorn shooing a coyote away from its small herd. The coyote trots determinedly to the west across the flats, jumping the little creek. It has a very full belly and I suggest it is the single animal I saw feeding on the bison carcass. Then we notice it has teats. Aha! Mama coyote. Then we notice a smaller coyote following the mama. Suddenly three coyotes appear, running towards the mom. They mob her, begging for food. One grovels with legs in the air. Mom continues, though, and finally meets a sixth coyote. This one grovels too, scraping its neck on the ground. She sniffs at it a bit then continues on her determined way. We see her lower her head and think she probably just cached something. We try to follow her, hoping she will lead us to her den, but we lose her behind the hill.

Well, alas, the time has come for me to say my goodbyes and head back to Bozeman. My last stop is in Lamar Canyon at the osprey nest, where I watch the chicks a while.

Today I saw: 1 grizzly, bison, 7 coyotes, elk, a bald eagle, pronghorn, 8 wolves: 1 unknown Mollie plus 7 Junctions (including 890M, 907F, un-collared gray yearling, and two other yearlings plus 2 pups) and the spirit of Allison.




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