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By David Strege
A gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park was hungry and alone—and worse, it was nursing an injured front leg, making it difficult to hunt for food.
Fortunately, it tracked down a bison carcass. Unfortunately, a pack of coyotes stood in its way.
With camera in hand, Ron Sterbenz of Yellowstone Video documented the dilemma the lone wolf faced and captured it in video about 1 mile northeast of Elk Creek in the northern tier of Yellowstone.
“He really could no longer hunt and wasn’t near any wolf pack that we could spot,” Sterbenz told USA Today/For The Win Outdoors. “Usually, a wolf can easily dispatch a coyote with a bite, but a lone injured wolf against a pack of coyotes, the odds were now in the coyotes’ favor. This wolf weighed his odds and took the chance to eat.”
Sterbenz had located a bison that had died and was thinking he’d be watching a couple of coyotes and maybe a grizzly bear return to the carcass.
He started watching at 8:17 a.m. and heard howling around 8:30. Nineteen minutes later, the wolf appeared as three coyotes were taking turns feeding on the bison. As the wolf approached, the coyotes attempted to attack it several times, but the wolf successfully defended itself before getting to the carcass.
Sterbenz told For The Win Outdoors the wolf ate for about 15 minutes before moving on.
“We were all rooting for him since we know if a wolf can’t hunt due to an injury it needs to find food somehow or it, too, is doomed,” Sterbenz told For The Win Outdoors. “I did not hear if anyone knew how this wolf was injured and I checked the daily reporting and no one posted a comment.
“After watching him feed safely and then just walking away un-harassed, we knew it bought itself a few more days to survive in Yellowstone. Being alone is bad, alone and injured is even worse, but alone, injured and pack of coyotes nipping at your butt is about as bad as it gets for a wolf.”