the photo blog about travel, history, and business
Here's the idyllic scene along the Madison River earlier this May. If you caught my last post, you will know I was out early this morning looking for wildlife to observe and photograph. We had snow the day before and the temperatures, while rising, were still in the mid-30s.
After a couple of hours of roaming the park and about 7:30 a.m., these two elk greeted me near an overlook off the road to West Yellowstone. The closer elk was actually on the lip of the overlook when I pulled up and walked slowly toward the river and it's companion on the other side when I got out of my car.
As the picture shows, the elk seemed unconcerned about me and my camera. In fact, all their attentions were focused on grazing as I stayed a respectful distance away.
As I was watching, and about 150 yards east of this scene (to the left as you look at the elk), a lone wolf trotted out of the woods and started making his way in the direction of the elk. His progress was not hurried and you could not tell if there were others still in woods nearby.
The elk seemed unaware of the wolf even though my heart raced a bit even though I was a good 100 yards away across the river and near my car. This continued for several minutes as the wolf made its way deliberately toward the elk.
Eventually the female did lift her head to look in the wolf's direction. But she put her head back down and continued to graze. At this point the wolf had advanced to within about 50 yards of the elk.
The wolf continued it's leisurely stroll toward the elk, getting to within 15 to 20 yards before the male elk on the far side of the river took notice and started walking in the direction of the wolf. The wolf slowed down and waited intently. Within a couple of minutes a stare off ensued, wolf against elk.
No other wolves appeared. Apparently, he was alone or the others didn't want to tackle and adult elk.
Perhaps, sensing this, the elk lowered it's head and charged. The wolf quickly turned and ran into the woods.
The whole episode took about ten minutes from the wolf's arrival to his escorted departure. Spotting a wolf in the park is somewhat rare and this was not near a known den.
You never know what you are going to find when you head out with your camera. Sometimes it's nothing but rarely does it include a confrontation like this one. So, this city boy counted himself lucky that morning to see the wolf and elk interact.
The elk returned to what they were doing, not making any effort to move further down the river. I watched for awhile longer and made my way back to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge to meet up with friends.
All photos and text copyright Clinton Richardson. These and other images from Yellowstone and Grand Teton are posted on our sister site at www.Trekpic.com in our Wild Wyoming Gallery.
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Travel, business and history with original photos.
Clinton Richardson - author, photographer, business advisor and traveler.
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