The end of the day on the Blacktail Plateau in Yellowstone, February 8, 2013.
A lone coyote makes his way across a hillside in the late afternoon sun.
He’s looking at his shadow, trying to figure out how it is that he’s suddenly turned into a tropical iguana.
Or a warthog.
Before the wolves returned to Yellowstone in 1995, the coyotes there had a pretty cushy life. Sure, they had to watch out for mountain lions and grizzlies -and cars – but for the most part they were in charge. In the winter, especially, they were the kings: the grizzlies were sleeping, and they could have their fill of winter-killed elk and bison. I imagine it was a pretty rude shock once the first wolves were released to discover that someone way bigger than they were was not going to let them near a downed elk until all of the good stuff was gone.
The coyote population decreased by about half in the first ten years after the wolves were re-introduced, but you can still see plenty of them in the park, especially on a clear winter day.
As I watched the lone guy checking out his shadow, another coyote trotted up over the ridge, and came to say hello.
I’m thinking we’ve got a dating situation going on here.
They move in for a closer look:
Dance around for a bit:
And that’s it. They go their separate ways.
Maybe not a date, after all.