or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › The Wild Life in Jackson Hole
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The Wild Life in Jackson Hole

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
I had to drop my wife off at the airport really early this morning, so I decided to go on a little solo recon mission up on Togwotee Pass (it's pronounced TOW-guh-tee). There was enough snow to have a pretty fun time and I was able to make some very nice powder turns. The day was already a big success by 10:30am when I started driving home. Little did I know that the best was yet to come.

While driving back toward Jackson in Teton Park just south of Moran Junction, I ran across these guys:

It was a pack of eight wolves (seven of them are in this photo) working their way across a sagebrush flat toward the Snake River. They were a few hundred yards away and I didn't have a tripod, so these photos are a pretty fuzzy, but you get the idea.

Just to provide some background, it is REALLY rare to see wolves in Jackson Hole. There are three or four packs that travel through our valley, but it's just an amazing thing to actually see them. Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone Park (about 60 miles north of Jackson) about ten years ago and they've thrived pretty well, but it's still very unusual to sport a wolf in the wild. In the last eight years, I've seen one single, one pair, and a pack up in Yellowstone.

These guys were mostly spread out in a wide line, moving upwind. They would move for a couple of minutes and then stop, stick their heads up into the wind, and look and sniff.

I was able to watch them from the side of the highway for about fifteen minutes. It's amazing how effortlessly they move when they're ranging about. They never found anything interesting, but I'm pretty sure they were hunting.

It was very /

Nice natural camoflage, huh?

post #2 of 57
They are so cute at that age.
post #3 of 57
Great shots,
Thanks for sharing, kinda magical to see nature on the prowl.
post #4 of 57
Put me on the jealous list! Very cool. Thanks for posting the pics!
post #5 of 57
Thanks for sharing! This post made my day!
post #6 of 57
Wow! Put that down as one thing we can't offer you in Val d'Isere.

Originally Posted by Bob Peters
Val d'Isere is now on my must-visit list.

post #7 of 57
Great pics. Seeing all the bighorn sheep and deer on the way to Summit county is always a cool thing. Wolves? That's just awesome.
post #8 of 57
Very, very cool, Bob!

I can vouch for the *rarity* of such a sighting. Heck, even in the Park it's rare. Have you ever seen those freakishly obsessive wolf people? They will stand off the road in the Lamar Valley with about $20K worth of spotting scopes and wait all day just to see one. But you sure can hear them, though.

Very, very, very, very rare sighting indeed. Thanks for the pics!
post #9 of 57
Amazing stuff...thanks for sharing!
post #10 of 57
Nothing special, looks like my ride to work every morning though the complex except instead of wolves there are Spaniels, Mutts, Cockadoos, Bulldogs, and Terriers. I don't see anyone behind the wolves with a baggy. These pictures have "fine" written all over them. I guess there are no leash laws in your neck of the woods.
post #11 of 57
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Nothing special, looks like my ride to work every morning though the complex except instead of wolves there are Spaniels, Mutts, Cockadoos, Bulldogs, and Terriers. I don't see anyone behind the wolves with a baggy. These pictures have "fine" written all over them. I guess there are no leash laws in your neck of the woods.
Sorry, I'm afraid the humor escaped me.
post #12 of 57
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
They are so cute at that age.
Wish Wyoming would get their management plan up to snuff so that these things can get off the endangered species list. Then I could buy a tag. (I think it's coming in Jan/Feb 2009.)

The elk population in the Yellowstone ecosystem has been severely decimated by this carnivore's reintroduction.

I think that most of those not from around here see the reintroduction of this animal as putting things "back to nature" and don't understand the impact that it has had.

"Save 100 elk. Kill a wolf."

P.S. Sorry for the hijack Bob. Great pics. I've seen many wolves WAY OUTSIDE the two parks while I've been hunting (i.e., while I'm walking through the woods) and just don't want to see many more (if any).


post #13 of 57
OMG - I'm still on the fence on adding JAC to my SLC trip ... this is pushing me over!

Great stuff ...
post #14 of 57
Great Pics!

I saw the wolves for the first time this past summer on Antelope Flats Road just before you get to Mormon Row.

Actually I saw a wolf. It was the day the one large wolf was killed by a car at Glacier View Turnout in GTNP. The date was around mid August. I was leading a bike tour & one large dark brown jumped across the road about 100 yeard ahead of me. He was huge & jumped across the road. I was psched. Just a few of mt clients saw it.

Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post

Nice natural camoflage, huh?

post #15 of 57
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Nothing special, looks like my ride to work every morning though the complex except instead of wolves there are Spaniels, Mutts, Cockadoos, Bulldogs, and Terriers. I don't see anyone behind the wolves with a baggy. These pictures have "fine" written all over them. I guess there are no leash laws in your neck of the woods.
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
Sorry, I'm afraid the humor escaped me.
I guess I should have put a or "tongue firmly planted in cheek" brackets.
post #16 of 57
Every credible study I'm aware of has indicated that the reintroduction of the wolves has had a huge and positive impact across the ecosystem. For example, the changes in elk behavior engendered by the wolves has unwound a ton of damage to the Lamar Valley.

One summary: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/we...sic.html?fta=y

(I was gonna include link to a Science article, but the AAS stuff needs a subscription...)

IMO, the federal government should just smack states like WY and AK, who are unduly influenced by hunters and "ranching" interests, upside the head and flat out permanently put more credible people in charge of management. (not that I'm always all that impressed by the feds either...)
post #17 of 57
Again, I didn't want to hijack the tread that has some truely great pictures, but I have to disagree with spindrift. There are lots of reports, but the NY Times isn't the best reference.

Those in DC and the Federal District court judges making the decisions on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) really have no clue. The 3 states (ID, WY & MT) have all met the quota for the number of packs/breeding pairs (in some cases double the number) and yet those who aren't anywhere near here still keep the wolves on the ESA list. Ask anyone who makes a living from the land what they have seen. Ask any of the sportsmen who are out and about in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Wolves have made a significant impact on the elk herds. Ask the Fish & Game departments of the 3 states - they'll say that wolves need to be managed just like any other predator.

IMO, Washington and the judges ought to stay out sound management plans that the states are trying to put in place.
post #18 of 57
Following the drift...

Obviously, the local goverment have a vested interest to keep the wolve population down as low as they can lobby it to be. And the coats in DC are out of the reality at the other hand of the spectrum.

Seems to me the only neutral party are the park service. And whatever recommendation should be guided by science not politics.
post #19 of 57
OK, folks...

No one's going to win this one here. There are no neutral parties (not even NPS). People who live within 200 miles of the Park will have a different set of experiences than those who don't. It can become pretty heated quickly when people debate it--I hear it all the time. No need to drag that into this place.

Let's just thank Bob for his pics--yes, they are *really* rare to see in those numbers in that place.
post #20 of 57
The wolves are supposed to make a significant impact on the elk herds.

And something tells me that elk are nowhere near extinction in that neck of the woods. Especially given the arguably inappropriate feeding in the refuge.

My wife's family were pioneers in WY. In fact, for those who know what it implies, her grandmother died in the Pioneer home not all that many years ago. And I spent some time living in rural MT. I have a reasonable (although admittedly not expert) idea of how the economics and politics of those states work. And I know enough to understand how states like that leverage their Constitutional over-enfranchisement into disproportionate economic and legislative power. Without which, their posturing on these topics would be universally considered farcical.

In short, I am not impressed. I'm glad to see wolves once again in the Yellowstone region - and IMO the less say WY, ID and MT have about any ecosystem related decision making, the better.

to seeing the Wolves in Yellowstone and environs. I've only ever seen them once myself - up by Dunraven Pass... Bob's pics brought a smile to my face.
post #21 of 57
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
IMO the less say WY, ID and MT have about any ecosystem related decision making, the better.
Dood, I offered a diplomatic cease-fire. This is a skiing forum.

Though I used to live in Seattle (as well as other big coastal cities) and I remember what it was like to feel as though I knew better than rural America

Now let's leave it alone.
post #22 of 57
WAAYYY cool Bob! Thanks for sharing what most will never get to see in person.
post #23 of 57
I agree with Faber.

So Spindrift, lets get back to talking about something we both like....


Again, sorry to Bob (and everyone else) for hijacking the thread.

post #24 of 57
Works for me!

My biggest problem with my Kuros at the moment is waiting for snow. So given GT's opening date and our lack of snow - we may get to continue this discussion over beers sooner than later...

BTW HB - if you ever feel a need for some garden-fed venison, stop by my place for a day or two. I'll provide the baseball bat
post #25 of 57
Hi Bob.

Getting ready to leave town for a while, but had to stop and admire your photographs. Spectacular terrain and inspiring subject led to some remarkable images. Thanks for sharing them.

If I may I’ll hijack this thread, (again,) and address the point that you made regarding your lack of a tripod. First, let me offer my opinion that your shots look wonderful, and you certainly made the best of a unique situation. Please understand that what I’m writing is in no way a critique of your shots, rather I’ll try and provide some concrete information for you and all interested Bears that y’all can use as you wish.

I took a look at the metadata on a pair of your shots, SevenWolves-Togwotee and FourWovesLongShot, and observed the following camera data.

Both shot with your Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTI, 300mm lens, ISO 250, 1/500 shutter speed, f/10, Program mode.

Choice of 1/500 is fine to freeze the action with your chosen lens, but faster speed could yield even sharper results. General guideline for a sharp image is that the slowest shutter speed should be the reciprocal of the lens’ focal length when shooting unsupported. Of course, many Bears may find that their circumstances may alter this guideline. Dump a bit of adrenaline in your system, and you may get a slight case of the shakes. (Say you’re a bit winded from a long up-hill hike, or have just stopped after a grueling bump run and want to hurry and make a shot of a companion, or experience the rush that come with unexpectedly encountering a dangerous, beautiful, rare, or fleeting subject.)

I’ve never used the XTI, but did a quick search and found a dope sheet. XTI is a very powerful machine and puts many tools at your control to help craft your images. The same holds true for most of the current digital SLRs on the market.

To specifically address the issue of not having a tripod, here are a few options that the XTI offers you.
First thing I’d do is to switch the camera out of the Program mode. If image sharpness is your principal concern, consider Shutter Priority mode. Most SLRs will let you know when you exceed acceptable exposure values, and will inform you of underexposure. Another option would be to select Aperture Priority mode, then fire away. I do not know what specific 300mm lens you had mounted, but even most of the lower priced telephoto lenses can be opened up to 5.6, yielding you a full 1 2/3 stops to play with as opposed to the f10 that the camera selected.

Another usable tool is your camera's ISO selector. I couldn’t get the full Canon manual, but the dope sheet states that in Auto mode, ISO ranges from 100 to 400. However, set manually ISO ranges from 100 to 1600. In general, I choose the lowest ISO rating that I can get away with, but will bump it up when the need or my mood dictates. Major issue with earlier digital cameras was the amount of noise at high ISO settings. Current crop of pro and prosumer SLRs are much improved, but I can’t speak with any authority about the XTI. Play with all of the possibilities and see what works best for you.
post #26 of 57
Ya well, they are great pictures reguardless. Just to witness these rare animals in the wild can be wonderful but also scarey if you happened to be hiking in the area alone.

Someone decided to introduce Coyotes into our area a while back.(DEC) Why? Stupid idea. not we have two dens of at least 10 each in our back 70 acres. Let alone another across the Interstate adjacent to my property. Some of the neighbors have lost cats and some others a dog. My Wife never snowshoes or crosscountry skis without taking a pistol. A man hiking with his two Golden Retrievers was attacked a couple months ago. He managed to fend them off but both his dogs were killed. No doubt, they saved his life. There have been some pictures of Mountain Lions photographed by a deer trail camera at night about 8 miles from here and a local Doctor has reported almost hitting a very large cat on the Highway right behind my property. No doubt, the DEC has introduced them also, although they have denied doing so.

These animals are beautiful in the wild but this isn't the wild anymore. It's suburbia. I realize Wyoming isn't suburbia but how long will it be before these animals begin killing livestock again. Or worse, attacking pets and children who happen to be in the wrong place?

Ok, i'm rambling. I'll quit.
post #27 of 57
One of the factors in increased coyotes is the lack of wolves according to some.

But anyway, great shots Bob again - amazing wildlife!
post #28 of 57
Lars, An interesting discussion of coyotes in NY.

The odds of DEC "introducing" cougar without public disclosure are, zero. Regarding that cat, if your neighbor has not mentioned, in a big way, the giant tail of the cat he's seen - it is not likely a cougar. That tail is a key diagnostic & is almost always the first thing mentioned after the large size of the animal in a real cougar sighting. This from the F&W guy I discussed the cougar in my yard/neighborhood ( a number of years ago) with. We also discussed unfounded panic and misconceptions about bobcat and coyotes (which, along with bear, can also be seen in my neighborhood) ...

Regarding livestock & wolves - that's a long a complicated discussion. And I'm not really current on it. But there is already at least one financial compensation mechanism in place...
post #29 of 57
Thread Starter 

Isn't it amazing how much passion these animals can invoke, even on a skiing forum? I think there must be something deeply instinctive about our feelings toward wolves. And I don't think there's anything at all wrong with thread drift or hijackings. This is an interesting subject.

I think I at least partially understand most sides of the argument.

The cold, hard fact is that wolves are vicious killers. Much of the film we see of them focuses on the cute and cuddly aspects of pack life, but these are wild animals that have to kill to survive. They're extremely efficient at covering huge areas, finding whatever weak or unprotected critters they can, and then killing them in a very brutal fashion.

Their reintroduction *has* changed the whole Yellowstone ecosystem in a bunch of ways. Most of those changes are, I suspect, very healthy in the long run. But if you're a brand new baby elk or bison in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park during the spring, you now have a very good chance of being chased down and eaten. That's not a very big improvement in the environment if you're an elk.

Harkin, I know that the argument is being made that the wolves are decimating the elk population. I don't hunt much anymore so I don't see that the way you might. It seems like I'm still seeing tons of elk throughout our valley and don't they seem to have a bigger and bigger problem evey winter with the numbers of elk that are showing up at the Elk Reguge and the other feedgrounds? It just doesn't seem that the numbers are changed significantly over the last few years.

Cattle and sheep ranchers on the private lands (and National Forest grazing leases) surrounding Yellowstone *are* paying a pretty severe price for return of the wolves. Ranching is a tough business these days, and ANY losses of calves or lambs to wolves is super costly. I think it's a shame that the return of an animal that I love to have around is proving so difficult for these hard-working people.

Despite all the negatives, though, I'm happy as can be that wolves have been brought back to this part of the world. I spend quite a bit of time in the wilderness away from roads and trails in the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area. The fact that grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions live and thrive here is a huge part of why I love it so much. Knowing that they're out there adds an exciting (and sobering) element to hiking or skiing alone in the backcountry.

This is one of those questions that has lots of answers. I'm just glad I was alive at a time the wolves are out there.
post #30 of 57
It's always a little bit humbling to be in a situation in which you realize you're not at the top of the food chain. Those are some awesome pictures, not just for the wolves, but also for the terrain around them. The whole situation must have made you feel a bit small, Bob.

When I was in college, I took a course on mammals with a focus on mammals in Vermont. At the same time, I was cutting firewood on weekends to make money. While driving back to Burlington from Barnard (small town, 15 miles north of Woodstock) on a dirt road, I came around a corner and came headlights to eyes with a large canine. It's back was about the height of my POS Ford Fairmont. Long spindly legs, grey, the prototypical canis lupus - I would guess it weighed between 125 and 150 pounds. Being a good student, I dilligently reported the sighting to my mammalogy professor who dismissed me outright, stating that wolves had ceased to exist in Vermont in the late 1800's. He claimed it was a coy-dog. I know what I saw. It was awesome and frightening even though I was in a car.

I'm always jealous when I read Bob's posts..yet I can't help myself...I always have to read them. Well done, sir
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › The Wild Life in Jackson Hole