So far this winter has been a roller coaster of temperatures. December brought weeks of sub- zero temps, while almost every day in January was in the high 30’s and 40’s. All our snow in the valley melted and the ground was bare. Then one day two feet of snow fell, and didn’t stop. One constant has been wind–a lot of it and up to 50 mph.
Before all the deep snows came, I spent a lot of time watching for wildlife and sometimes seeing them. I had several glimpses of a lame coyote, with a hurt or broken back left leg. One day I saw him scurry across a wide field. I wondered if he’d make it through the winter, with his lameness as well as wolves to watch out for. Then a few weeks later I saw him stealing a large bone from a recent deer kill. It was early morning when I noticed the coyote. He saw my car and started running for cover. It was then I saw it was my limpy friend. I took a few photos and was on my way.
Poor guy had it tough enough without me making it harder. But on the way home I checked for his tracks. I was curious what a useless left back leg would look like in the tracks.
One ski tour I took a few more photos of tracks. This time a Snowshoe Hare and a Marten track
Here’s a photo from January on the flats behind my house. Where’s all the snow?
Here’s a puzzle. We had a few days of intense snow without a let-up. During a short let-up of the storm, I took a walk around our woods and discovered this interesting ‘hole’. It doesn’t go anywhere, but was obviously a temporary snow shelter dug out during the storm just above the base of a tree on a hillside. The hole measured about 6 or 7 inches across, big enough for a fox or a skunk. I have seen skunks once here, but they are rare. So are raccoons at this altitude. I wondered what could have done this. All tracks were obliterated by the recent snows.
I found bobcat tracks around my house. Bobcats have become quite rare around here because of intense trapping. Bobcat pelts can go for up to $1000! and so a lot of newbies want to cash in. Wyoming has no limit on how many bobcats a person can trap and the season is long, pretty much all winter. So I set up a camera trap to get some photos. I’ve never been successful catching photos of bobcats, except the few times I’ve seen them myself. But instead of catching a bobcat, I caught a shot of this fox.
I understand from some old timers around here that foxes used to be quite rare. Canines are territorial and will kill other canines in their area. Wolves kill coyotes, coyotes kill foxes. I’ve seen foxes quite a lot since I’ve lived here and I think the wolves are keeping the coyotes either ‘in check’ or enough on their toes so that there is room for foxes again.
I discovered a secret game trail that is quite a hike from my house. An old water diversion ditch, it appeared the wildlife were using it frequently. I also found a deer kill nearby. To confirm my suspicions, I set my trail camera up and left it there for 6 weeks. I got a lot of photos of rabbits, deer, elk, coyotes, and wolves. Here are a few. Look at the temperature on the two nighttime wolf photos. Its -33 degrees!
I really do live in a special place, right next to Yellowstone National Park!