the wolf also rises

Wolves lead hard lives. They fight for territory, breeding rights and to bring down potentially dangerous prey like bison and elk. Their average life expectancy in the wild is just five to eight years and many die at the hands (or teeth) of other wolves.

Early on the morning of May 13th, this wolf, along with a couple other wolves from his pack, The Mollies, were feeding on a carcass a little too close to the territory of another wolf pack, the Junction Buttes. Several wolves from the Junction Buttes charged in to attack The Mollies. All but this wolf escaped, and he then took a bad beating from the attacking wolves. He was finally able to break free and escape by jumping down a ten foot embankment into a shallow river. After the Junction Buttes didn't pursue him down the embankment, he limped from the river toward the park road where he laid down in the border of a sage field about 70 yards off the park road.

He was limping badly on his back right leg. He also appeared to have injuries to his stomach (where the attacking wolves really targeted), his back end and probably several other places. The first day, he laid there in obvious pain and only got up occasionally to hobble a few steps and drink a little water. Fortunately, since it's early spring some of this grassy area was wet and marshy providing him a place to drink. The fear was that he had internal injuries that he would not survive and we thought we were looking at a dying wolf. On day two he seemed to be a little better but was still limping and in obvious pain. Still, his short walks were a little farther than the first day, he was blinking rather than wide and fixed eyed, and he was drinking more water, so there was some hope for his recovery. Day three arrived to find the wolf gone. He most likely gained enough strength to make his way back toward his pack during the night. I never heard if anyone spotted him back with them.

This photo was taken on day two. While his crouched position may look menacing, it's actually that he's hunched over in pain around his underbelly. Probably not everyone enjoys seeing photos like this, but this is part of nature. If you spend enough time around these animals you will see some die. And, sometimes you'll see some, like this wolf, that survive.