This afternoon I opened my front door to a small herd of bison. Needless to say, I had to postpone my walk until they moved to the backyard. Elk and bison paraded up the street today like bored teenagers trying to find some excitement. At one point I had three mule deer resting in my backyard, eight elk walking down my driveway, and a team of bison on the road in front of my house. This is truly an ungulate neighborhood!
One animal I am not likely to see is the white-tailed jackrabbit. The Wildlife Conservation Society of the Bronx Zoo just finished a study that concluded the species has disappeared from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The last confirmed sighting in Yellowstone was in 1991.
On a non-wildlife note, last night I attended International Night at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and we dined on a delicious buffet with Mexican, Asian, and Mediterrian themes. I admit to having three helpings, which produced painful results (the event is affectionately and accurately referred to as "trough" night, since everyone consumes enormous amounts of food).
At dinner I had a chance to talk with Doug Smith, the park's wolf biologist. He taught the class Jack Laws and I took last November in Yellowstone; we both considered it an experience of a lifetime to have spent two days watching wolves with Doug--he's an amazing person.
Jack organized an effort to have our class collectively sponsor a radio collar for a wolf though a donation to the Yellowstone Foundation. Doug reported that he just placed our collar on wolf 482, a very large alpha male. What fun to think of 482 running through the wilderness with our collar, inscribed with an Aldo Leopold quote that Jack selected.