Bison’s last stand against Yellowstone wolf


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Tourists, scientists and a host of wildlife photographers got a rare front-row seat to a compelling wildlife drama this week at Yellowstone National Park.


On Sunday, a large male wolf from the Canyon Pack was seen stalking an injured or sick female bison. By Monday, the pair were locked in a deadly standoff in a meadow about 200 yards from one of the park’s busy roads.

Dozens of people gathered to watch as the wolf patiently but repeatedly approached the bison, probing for weakness and looking for a response. The bison shook its head or snorted at the wolf, causing it to retreat to a nearby stand of trees.

After a time the bison would lower itself to the ground to rest, bringing out the wolf for another foray, with the intent to exhaust the bison. When successful, the bison was able to get to its feet and ward off the wolf.

By late Monday, the bison’s ability to fend off the attacks was waning, and the wolf was able to attack the bison’s hindquarters for brief moments. Ultimately, the wolf would satisfy himself that the bison was too weak to defend itself and likely will call in his pack. Although Yellowstone’s wolf packs do predate bison, this attack was rare. Bison make up 5% of wolves’ diet, the bulk of which is elk.

A large crowd was enthralled. Some were horrified at the inevitability of it all. One family ushered their children back to their car. Another man shrugged, ‘It’s nature.’

-- Julie Cart