"" Writer's Wanderings: Road Trip 2015 - Yellowstone's Wildlife

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Yellowstone's Wildlife

There was lots of other wildlife in Yellowstone National Park but not always so obvious as elk and bison. Twice we pulled over when we saw some cars stopped along the road and discovered that folks were watching a bald eagle. Both sightings were in a bare tree. Made me wonder if the eagles preferred the bare branches to leafy greens.

In one day, we pulled over for four bear sightings. We had only seen two in Glacier but now we were adding up our sightings quickly. I wondered if the colder weather was bringing them out looking for as much food as they could scavenge before the winter set in. An amazing fact we learned from the ranger with the toothpick stuck in the corner of his mouth was that bears don't always hibernate. The only time they go into hibernation is when their food source is gone. Then they hibernate to save their energy and their bodies feed off of the saved fat slower than if they were out running around.

Another bear fact learned was that they have teeth for pulling up vegetation and grinding it as well as canines for eating meat. Guess they try for a balanced diet?

And one more: The distinctive difference between a black bear and a grizzly is the hump on a grizzly's back. Either way, I'm not sticking around closely to decide.

On one particular wildlife stop we made, we noticed that people were a lot more excited than usual. When we got out and crossed the road to see what it was all about, we were pointed to something moving through the weeds on the other side of the river. We finally saw it! I snapped away as Bob inquired about it. Was it a wolf or a coyote?

Everyone's consensus was that it was a wolf. I took their word for it even though as Bob and I got back in the car we talked about wolves being more nocturnal. When I got home, I watched a video from the park about the difference between wolves and coyotes. When I make the picture larger, it looks like the animal has a pointier nose that would indicate it's a coyote. Plus wolves are said to be seen closer to dawn or dusk not in the middle of the morning.

There was also one other note in the information I gleaned from the NPS site. The coyotes are much less afraid of people, often look for a handout and will travel closer to the roads. So that's one more fact that leads me to believe it's a coyote. Hmmm. I've seen those in my backyard.

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