Stephen Fischer Photography

Winter in Yellowstone

page 4 of 6

On the last drive through the Lamar Valley on the third evening close to sunset, I finally got lucky with a relatively close wolf sighting. In this situation I noted three folks off to the side of the road viewing something in their scopes on a nearby ridgeline about ¼ mile away, just behind the Lamar Valley Ranger station. Everyone seemed to have a deadly silent look on their face. Getting out the binoculars revealed that we were witnessing an ongoing attack by 5 wolves against a group of 3 bison. Two adult bison were trying to protect a younger one in the middle, while the 5 wolves surrounded them, taking turns to try to get a bite in from various directions.


After quickly improvising a parking space in the snow bank on the side of the road, I was able to get the super-telephoto lens setup trained on the unfolding situation while there was still about 10 minutes of direct light on the ridge. It was quite fascinating to see the teamwork and patience being applied by these animals in trying to take down a species much larger than itself. In multiple instances one of the adult bison would charge the wolves in an effort to drive them away, only to have another wolf counter-attack from the opposite side (see images 56-58).


After witnessing this skirmish for about 45 minutes, while trying to dial in the focus and stabilization of the camera for sharper images, plus the capture of some video, it became too dark for further photography. Talking to one of the other viewers about the situation afterwards, they believe that the attack could go on all night, and eventually the younger bison may get worn down to exhaustion, eventually succumbing to the wolves. When reviewing some of my resultant captured images of this event later, I noticed the younger bison already had wounds to its rear, while other shots revealed a wolf with some chunk of bison flesh with its fur still attached in its mouth. So it would appear that the younger bison’s inevitable fate is already on the way to being sealed.  


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All content and images are property of Stephen Fischer Photography, copyright 2016.   Last updated: 4/19/2016