Wolfwatching on Dunraven
Salle Englehart, WRF’s Vice President, was kind enough to email me this report from Aug. 27 (or 28?). People are seeing the Agates. Kathie Lynch told me the same.
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Wolfwatching on Dunraven
by Salle Engelhardt
Yesterday I was given the day off and decided to take my brand new 10×42 binoculars out and see how well they work for my needs in the Park. They were as good as any spotting scope I have used.
I originally wanted to go see the now famous grizzly sow with the four cubs again but was not able to catch up with her while I was on the mountain. There were also four black nears near the Dunraven Trailhead but I never saw them either. I concluded that it was a wolf watching day instead so I went down the northern slope and parked about halfway down.
Within minutes I spotted a big black wolf on the eastern edge of the floodplain on the valley floor. Moments later there was a large gray that emerged from the deep creek bed, wandered over to the shady spot where the black wolf lay, they “talked” a moment and the gray went off in a northwesterly direction.A few minutes later a French couple showed up and wondered at what I was watching. As we sat on the edge of the grass and talked about the wolves, sharing my bino’s, I decided that I didn’t really know enough about this pack so I cheated, I called Ralph from a cell phone and asked him about the pack. While I was speaking to Ralph, several other wolves emerged from the creek bed until there were seven of them visible. Three blacks, four grays. One gray is so light that its whiter parts look alabaster in the sunlight, another is so dark that it looks like it has light dappling on a dark, almost black, background. the other grays look silvery in the sun.
I was able to sit and watch for almost three hours. As I watched, many tourists stopped to watch too. Most didn’t have sufficient lenses to see well so I shared mine with most of them. A couple folks with spotting scopes arrived off and on, they were very willing to share their scopes also. Never met anyone who wouldn’t share a scope.
It seems that most wolf watchers are plenty excited to have others see the wolves so they can share in the joy of it. Many said that using the better lenses so they could really SEE the wolves well enough to feel confident that they really are wolves certainly made their day, some said it made their whole trip to Yellowstone complete. A few commented that it was great to KNOW that the wolves are there but it’s many times more exciting to actually be able to catch just a glimpse of them for confirmation. Others said that the wolves were what they drove, for days, to see.
It’s certainly good to know that the people who do stop to watch are fascinated with the idea that something has been “put back” to they way it should have been, even though it can never be just as it was or would have been without human interference.
Until my next venture into the Yellowstone…
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
14 Responses to Wolfwatching on Dunraven
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I was fortunate to watch the Agates in an encounter with a Grizzly on Sunday (late) afternoon 8/26. While I was not there long enough to determine if there was a recent kill close, the Ravens (crows?) led me think that there was.
While I was there, a few ravens were hanging around the pack. They kept getting up and going down to the creek. About every ten minutes one or two wolves would get up and stroll down to the creekbed. they appeared to have one particular spot they frequented, I suspected there might be a carcass down by the water.
There was a group of nine elk cows that passed by under where I stood, at one point, but they never seemed to look across the valley nor did the wolves appear to notice the elk. Those of us who were there then figured the wolves weren’t very hungry which led to speculation that there might be something to eat in the creekbed. The ravens went down there too.
It’s always a pleasure to read about the wolves in Yellowstone and I agree with Salle that people are always thrilled to see wild wolves and to share their optics. I must say that I have found the viewers along Antelope Creek (road to Dunraven) to be much friendlier and open than elsewhere in the Park. The Lamar watchers are more serious, clannish and terse. Kind of like, “Yes, you can look through my multi-thousand dollar Swarovski scope but make it quick, I need to watch for RLU’s.” The Antelope Creek area is much more welcoming and seems to me more in the spirit of excitement and discovery that Yellowstone should be. Just my experience. 🙂
There are serious wolf watchers in both Lamar and Antelope. Many of whom are researchers who are/may be focused on one individual animal and reporting on same. They tend to be more focused and therefore may appear to be other than friendly.
I’ll tell you what bugs me the most and I’m certain does so to others is the guy who pulls up in the middle of the road stopping traffic to yell out the window “Hey, what ya lookin at”? I never respond to those folks. And I’m only viewing through a $300 Bushnell. Nuttin’ arrogant about that……..
Love to read the posts about sitings of wolves and other wildlife in Yellowstone.
After 7 days in the park in June I was disappointed we would be leaving, particularly because we hadn’t seen a wolf. We did see many coyotes, one even carrying the head of a mule deer in it’s mouth (breakfast a la carte). As a stall tactic, I talked my husband into one last hike. What better place to see the Slough Creek Pack than on the Slough Creek Trail, right? Yeah.. that didn’t work. But as dusk approached, we got back into our car and headed towards the northeast entrance. We rounded the bend and there they were…three wolves (2 black, 1 gray) meandering thru the sagebrush. They crested the hill top, stopped as if to pose for pics, and disappeared. I’d like to think that was part of the Slough Creek Pack but who knows. That sighting made the trouble from our two flat tires, flight delay, and my luggage going back to Detroit on a different plane all worth it!
I also watched these wolves on August 27th and 28th. The black one was just frolicking about. Rolling around and pouncing at voles I guess. The gray one was running. One afternoon, a fairly large pup was pouncing around. I didn’t see any other wolves in the open when this pup was playing. On the 26th, I went to the Hayden Pack den by Otter Creek. I did not see the white wolf or the pups at all, but another lighter colored wolf came out at dusk to get a drink an walk around.
Oh yeah, I got a spotting scope off E-bay for $60 and it’s been the best thing I’ve invested in. I am always glad to share a view of animals even to the “hollerers”- some people would never get to see a wolf or bear any other way and it can make a child’s day to see these animals. I don’t find it an annoyance. Yeah, if I was a researcher I would probably not be as inclined to do this.
My wife and I were on the road over dunraven today, in the area described, we saw a total of 16 wolves, were not sure what pack this is??? could this be the agate’s?????
If anyone would like to send me a comment as to what pack this might be that would be great. E-mail Charles Newton
Charles – I’ve transformed your ascii email address into its equivalent decimal entity to prevent spam…
We had a wonderful September 7-10 watching wolves (Agate and Slough packs) under the direction of Brad Bulin in the Elk/Wolf Discovery program. Brad is really good at what he does! We had the 13-member Agate pack unite right in front of us at Antelope Creek, then begin to howl with the sound ringing through the valley. What a great sighting that was.
I was reading the comments on your blog about the wolf watchers. One main thing one needs to remember while visiting the park is respect and politeness to the animals and to the other people who are already set up and are watching the wolves. If you want to see or hear the wolves one should approach the viewing area as quietly as possible. Turn off the motors of your cars especially diesel engines and close your car doors quietly. If you want to ask someone what they are seeing, approach this person politelyand quietly ask!!! Most often the viewers will share their scopes, etc. My best times there as a viewer with my new $400 scope is sharing it with children and seeing the look on their faces when they view and wolf or bear!!! God has given us these wonderful animals and everyone needs to be aware of how they should act when coming to the park!! Also have respect for the park rangers and wolf researchers. They have a very important job to do and should be left alone to do it!!! Most often if you just stand there and listen one will find out the info you are needing!!!! Happy Watching!!!!
God created the wild animals on the 6th day. And God saw that it was good!! Genesis 1:24-25
Will be up in Yellowstone for just two days in middle of Oct. Would love to view wolves or wolf as my wife and I have never seen one in the wild. My wife is of limited mobility so could you recomend the best roadway where we might get lucky. Have good binoculars and hope to get a peek…thanks Tom
Tom, I got good info on this from my recent post. See the post Yellowstoen Park: North Range. I will be there the 4th thru the 8th. I can let you know if I have any luck. I truly hope that you and your wife have good viewing.
Last June we were there, and were watching a grizzly near Mt. Washburn. We had pulled off the road, and as we were walking toward the area to get a look, the car just above our truck began rolling down hill. My husband and brother-in-law had been betwenn the vehicles, and were fortunate that they could hold the car back before being smashed between them. I grabbed rocks for the tires, then walked (quite ticked off) up the road to find the owner of the car. She actually was rude when I asked if it was her vehicle. Then shrugged when I mentioned what happened. Peple could atleast learn how to drive and park before they go viewing.
Sorry about the typo’s.