Wolf and Elk, Lamar Valley

June 04, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Prior to arriving in Yellowstone, Sheryl and I had the shared goal of seeing a wolf in the wild even if it was from a quarter-mile away.  Just to see this animal in its natural habitat would be rewarding.  While driving east through the Lamar Valley, we came up over a small hill and had to brake strongly as a female elk ran at full speed across the road, toward the Lamar River. A couple seconds later, a beautiful, black 2-year old female wolf of the Lamar Canyon pack sprinted after the elk. What unfolded before us was more than an hour long confrontation between this lone wolf and the elk.

While we expected an unfair fight, the elk proved to be a formidable fighter, and quite skilled at fending off the wolf’s attempted attacks. 20 minutes into their strategic positioning, both animals took a 20 second break, as if the first round bell had sounded. After a second round of back-and-forth, the wolf had had enough and left the river, retreating to the northwest.  With its injured right leg, the elk pursued the wolf for a couple hundred yards – at which point, the wolf turned and chased the elk again back toward the river. Halfway into this new chase, the elk planted both front legs and kicked the wolf with both hind legs. Another round in the water … and a final retreat in opposite directions by both animals.

With the birthing season in full bloom, bear and wolf activity increases dramatically in the valley with the abundance of young and vulnerable prey.

To witness this interaction was a gift - and an experience we’ve not stopped talking about…


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