** October - Austin **
In Grand Teton and Yellowstone, fall arrives in gold and red, a display of color broadcast in changing trees and grasses.
Wildlife prepares for winter: squirrels cashing nuts, bears go on eating binges and move toward their dens.
Elk begin their slow descent from higher elevations to
the valleys while antelope gather to leave the Park for the winter.
Wolf numbers throughout the Park are down - a lot. The havoc wreaked by the Mollie Pack has shown itself in the size of pack litters, or no litters at all.
?06, alpha female of the Lamar Canyon Pack, now collared as 832F, has done a good job of raising her pups.
The Lamar Canyon Pack is now 13 wolves strong, including 4 pups born this spring.
The Canyon Pack has 2 pups, the New Pack 3, and it's believed the Blacktails may have 2,
though the alpha female did not produce a litter this year.
Those wolves we did see were far, far away. Even the usually reliable Canyon Pack did not show themselves to us.
As I despair of the plunge in the wolf population, still I realize we are lucky to see them at all.
Over and over we hear: "I've been coming to the Park for 2, 5, 8 years and have never seen a wolf."
In the wake of Wyoming's first wolf hunt now underway with those of Idaho and Montana, my anxiety increases.
Spoiled perhaps by earlier times where wildlife seemed to spring from the ground,
I look around and worry about the effects of drought, disease and politics on all the Park's wildlife.
Christine Baleshta - October 2012