Showing posts from April, 2010

Spring Goodbyes

The season’s end has been lurking for several weeks, and is now pouncing on us, like a coyote on a pocket gopher’s final moments of life.  It is honestly depressing to me to think that my time in Yellowstone is coming to a close.  Our final week has been quite anti-climactic (hardly any wolves, no bears, a pitiful amount of bison, and a tiny elk population), but I still don’t want to leave.  I’m worried that I might injure Megan and Greg when they pull me kicking and screaming from the park entrance, if they can even get me that far.  
I feel that I have gained more from this job than I did from studying five years of ecology in college (but I wouldn’t have this job without the college part!).  I have developed a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the complex interactions that take place not only in Yellowstone, but everywhere on earth at every moment.  The human element in the world, although with a relatively huge impact on ecosystems, is only a small part of the colossal…


For any readers that were considering attending my presentation, it has been rescheduled for the 3rd of May (Monday), same place (Fish and Game, IF) same time (7pm).  See you there!
For the majority of the minuscule population of AE readers that are located in Idaho Falls, I will be giving a presentation of my winter in Yellowstone at the Idaho Fish and Game Department (click for map) for the Master Naturalist program on Monday, May 3 at 7:00 PM.  Entitled "Chasing the Beep: A Winter Tracking Elk and Wolves in Central Yellowstone," I will be displaying photos that I have taken (many of which you have already seen on the blog), as well as going over the ecology that has been learned from the twenty year study.

I hope you will join me in gawking at some of the wonders of the Yellowstone ecosystem.  If you have any questions, shoot me an email at

See you there all fellow aspirists of any profession...

Very Beary

The very large, very burly local residents of the Yellowstone stage have been making regular, and quite awesome appearances during the past two weeks.  The grizzlies that inhabit central Yellowstone tend to be darker than typical, ranging from dark brown to black in color, and we can often recognize individuals by certain coloration patterns.  For example, the "Preacher Bear" has a small vertical white stripe on his front shoulder blade, and the "Armpit Bear," as I fondly call him, has white under his front legs.  I was lucky enough, along with several students from Bob Garrott's Field Techniques course from Montana State University, to witness a very interesting interaction between these two bears.  If anyone knows anything about bears that can help me decipher exactly what was going on, it would be greatly appreciated:

We first saw the Armpit bear wandering slowly across the Fountain Flats meadow, headed directly towards a carcass that was hidden in the trees…

The Three Wolf-ateers

His performance was quite impressive.  In the face of three hungry wolves repeatedly lunging and snapping, the yearling bull bison showed much bravery and perseverance, even with a shredded and bloody hide and a bad limp.  He would go on to escape and survive the attacks, at least from these wolves. 

The Canyon pack had returned, after being absent from the study area for 37 days. Sweeping along their usual route from Norris to Madison Junction in one or two days, the wolves were on a search and destroy mission.  Luke and I had followed their tracks down the Madison River for several miles, until we came upon the three member pack.  The grey, the black, and the white.  Aaah how great! I think to myself.  I love the Canyon pack, probably my favorite.  They had double-backed on their tracks and were headed back toward Madison Junction, but Luke and I had work to do (ie trying to find more wolves), so we left Canyon pack knowing that we would probably miss something exciting.  After finis…