Yellowstone Reports

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Monitoring Wolf kills

Coming up empty
by Dan Hartman

Feb. 7, 2011

I snowshoed in on an old Lamar Canyon Pack kill yesterday. The kill had been made a week ago. I had planned on going in on Sunday and here it is Friday. Somehow the week just got away from me. I always like to check out wolf kills that are made in my corner of the Park on the off chance a wolverine might come calling. In previous years I had monitored kills near Upper Barronette, Warm Creek and one southwest of Silver Gate. Each time coyotes, foxes and martens visited but no wolverine. This time though we had just seen fresh wolverine tracks on the mountain slope across from our cabin. Maybe it was a sign.

Rick told me where to leave the road and I soon found a much-traveled trail in the snow that hopefully should lead to the carcass. I angled my way up slope with more and more wolf trails crossing mine. To my right a well-worn trench circled a Douglas fir where the wolves, probably pups, played tag around the big tree. Farther up, tracks raced out into a small meadow where several wolves rolled in the snow before returning on the same trail. Every snag near the trail looked like they had been splashed with lemon-aide.

There was elk sign here and there where they dug out grass beneath larger trees. When I came across several wolf beds, I thought the carcass must be nearby. I checked out some of the side trails, but couldnít locate it. It had been a week and we had several inches of new snow. All the coyote and marten tracks were at least three days old, the wolves even older. Usually ravens help with finding carcasses but the forest was quiet. I had waited too long. You snooze, you loose.


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Elk Carcass Near Warm Creek

Wolf and Coyote Tracks Near Warm Creek