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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wolves at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

There is a haunting, wild, beauty about the face of a wolf. 

Leopold - High Country Pack

The more I learn of wolves’ complex social structure the more I am in awe of these magnificent predators, beautiful and fearsome at the same time, amazing hunters able to bring down elk, moose, or bison. To see them in the wild inspires awe. To hear them howl is to experience an indescribably wild sound.

A special treat on our last visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone was watching the alpha pair of their High Country Pack, McKinley and Adara, play and roughhouse. Adara, the light colored wolf in the next five shots, is the alpha female of her pack and is displaying characteristic submissive behavior to her mate, the alpha male.

McKinley & Adara - alpha pair of High Country Pack

McKinley (standing) & Adara

McKinley & Adara

McKinley & Adara

McKinley & Adara

The four wolves of the High Country Pack are McKinley and Leopold, brothers born in 2006, and Adara and Takoda, sister and brother born in 2009.

Adara & Takoda

Leopold (left) & Takoda

Adara & Takoda

The wolves are especially active around the time they are fed, and periodically in winter they get a carcass.

McKinley feeding

Adara with remains of a carcass

The Gray Wolf (canis lupus) can range in color from white to tan or grizzled gray, to black.  The Gray Wolf was once common throughout North America, but was hunted almost to extinction up to the 1930s. Then wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. Their recovery in the northern Rockies is one of the great successes of the Endangered Species Act, yet they are also the subject of deep and vehement controversy.  

I will not comment here on the intense political controversy over wolves but will simply say that to me, wolves symbolize power and strength, wilderness and wildness. 

Leopold & Takoda

I am drawn to the beautiful Lamar Valley of Yellowstone to observe wild wolves, and there is nothing more awesome than watching these amazing animals in the wild. At the same time, the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is one of my favorite places and a perfect place to observe wolves, as well as grizzlies.