This wolf was the alpha female of the Canyon Pack in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming in May, 2009. She was found in the Lamar Valley.
Drive through the Lamar Valley on any given day of the year and you’re bound to come across a group of people keeping a close eye on one, or several, wolves at a time. Such was the case when I was on a brief solo road trip around northern Yellowstone driving through the Lamar Valley when I came across some wolf-watchers and the tourists that had gathered around them. A few dozen people were keeping a close eye on this alpha female as she went from one ridge to another with the occasional jaunt to the river.
The parking area where everyone was gathered was on the southern end of the road just off of a distinct bend where the direction changed from east to northeast (traveling east). The wolf ran up a ridge on the north side of the road, almost following the road, yet no one moved. I was ready to go follow her, but hesitated because no one budged, eventhough she was running off elsewhere. I asked someone why nobody was going after her and the seemingly unanimous response was, “She’ll come back.”
Oh really? I realized that these “professional wolf watchers” apparently think nature revolves around what they want, which I’ve learned it actually doesn’t, so I jumped in my car, leaving behind the three-dozen people or so that were sure she’d make her way to them, and proceeded around the bend. After one pass, she popped up on a ridge just off the road, and I snapped away, coming away with this shot. I was the only one that followed her north a bit more as she made her way up into the mountains. I drove back by the crowd roughly ten minutes later, and all were still standing there looking in every direction possible for her, wondering how she could have gotten away from them.
When there’s a wolf or bear out in the open in Yellowstone National Park, it’s extremely rare to get a unique shot since there are other photographers standing right next to you. I’m proud to say though, there isn’t another shot like this anywhere else. I was completely alone as her yellow eyes looked right into me.
f/8 @ 1/320
Canon 5D with Canon 70-300 IS USM f/4-5.6 @ 300mm