Touring through the West Gate has provided for some interesting wild life viewing thus far. Wolf packs have been seen on multiple occasions and the bobcat is out cruising the Madison River as well. It seems as if the trumpeter swan numbers are up, but maybe some of the their other water sources are frozen over, pushing more of them into the thermally charged rivers of Yellowstone National Park.
Yesterday morning there was a fresh elk kill near 7 Mile bridge, but not a wolf was seen at the time we came in and out. There were plenty of ravens and other scavengers around, but the wolves must have been off in the trees, hiding out and waiting for darkness to return. About 90% of the time, wolves don’t get what they’re after. Winter gives them a huge advantage as they almost walk across the snow without punching through too deep, where as elk punch all the way down due to their small hooves and larger weight. The elk near 7 mile Bridge was most likely running for the Madison, but ended up being about 40 yards short. Elk use the river as a safe haven and will stand chest deep in the river for as long as possible to fend off a wolf attack.
This big bull bison(below) has been hanging around Biscuit Basin with a few others for the past several weeks. As winter progresses, these large mammals love the warmth provided by the geyser basins. Geysers, hot springs and fumaroles along the Firehole River act like radiant heat in a house, warming the ground, and helps to keep the snow at bay allowing an easier time foraging for grass.