The unforgiving wind……

Although I say the folk I’m with in Yellowstone know when and where to look for the wolves, it’s still far from easy to find them – not just because of a wolf’s ability to remain hidden – but because of the weather systems out here in winter.

There’s some bad weather a-brewing over yonder!! (Photo credit: ER Hobkirk)

It is obviously very cold here, with temperatures averaging -13 degrees Celsius throughout winter, at an altitude of approx. 6278 feet above sea level, so once the wind picks up (and believe me, it picks up!!) the temperature suddenly feels a whole lot colder, and that wind can bite even with numerous warm and windproof layers on, head to toe! You stand there staring down your telescope, trying to find a needle in a hay stack (i.e. a wolf on a mountain side) and you are hit with blisteringly cold winds and horizontal snow blizzards – it’s great!! (she says with a grin!!).

Of course, the weather can be sunny too! Meaning visibility is great for the Lamar Wolf Project crew, the Wolf Watchers and myself to find the wolves! Thumbs up!

Of course, us humans have to bring equipment with us to endure these harsh unforgiving conditions, while the wolves (and the rest of the wildlife) are fully adapted to not only survive, but to thrive out here. Obviously as mentioned in previous posts (see: “Canid get enough of canids”) wolves have two layers of fur, their dense warm undercoat for insulation and their course outer coat for water and wind protection! They don’t need a fancy hi-tech ski coat! Their paws are webbed, with thick fur, and so act like insulated snow shoes (and obviously webbed feet are great for swimming too!). Their legs are long and their chests are slim and deep – both of these adaptations allow wolves to efficiently move through deep snow, which is needed when hunting prey or indeed trying to evade chase from other wolf packs! Now, I may have mentioned these adaptations before, BUT you cannot fully appreciate the physical complexity of wolves until you see them in the wild – it is truly amazing!

The fuzzy insulated paws of an Arctic wolf – Massak (Photo credit: ER Hobkirk)

Wild wolf tracks made by the Lamar Canyon pack of Yellowstone National Park – as you can see, their paw prints are nearly the same size as my hand (or glove in this case!). To get to these tracks me and the Lamar Wolf Project crew had to use snow shoes and skis just to hike out and we still fell through the deep snow (post holed) to knee height – but, thanks to the wolfs’ webbed paws they did not fall through the snow at all! (Photo credit: ER Hobkirk)

 

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One response to “The unforgiving wind……

  1. Pingback: The whole 8 mile….. | Researching Wolves·

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