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June 16, 2013 – Three Dog Day

June 17, 2013

It’s been a three dog day. Our morning started out by following a red fox along the roadway. We observed him running quickly, flowing across the landscape. We were impressed by how fluid and graceful the fox was. Later, we watched a coyote scavenging a fresh bison calf carcass while ravens looked on. To end the day, we stopped by the Lamar Canyon Pack rendezvous site and watched three wolves playing from across the river. We were all very excited to see all three types of canines (dogs) living in Yellowstone in the course of one day.

Our encounters today spurred an interesting discussion about the symbiotic relationship between ravens and the canine species. Ravens are able to spot a food source from a bird’s eye view helping the wolves and coyotes to locate a carcass. After the canines have their fill of the prey, the watching ravens move in to scavenge the remains. This relationship is a great example of mutualism.

Of the course of the past few days we have passed a badger den several times, but had seen no activity. We knew if we were patient eventually a badger would emerge, which led us to an unexpected encounter. While watching some pronghorn and twin fawns, we were surprised to see an adult badger off in the distance carrying a small rodent. We had been talking with a young boy in 2nd grade and he excitedly pointed out the direction that the badger was headed. With the assistance of this young naturalist, we were able to connect the dots and realized the badger was heading back towards the den that we had seen several times. Quickly, we hopped into our vehicles and made our way to the den. We got there just in time and we were able to observe the badger taking the prey to his young. This experience was more than just an animal sighting; we were able to extend one observation into a complete story.

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