Coyotes have a bad reputation. They are often seen as suburban pests. However, in Yellowstone National Park, they are beautiful creatures, healthy and fun to watch and photograph. Yellowstone coyotes are among the largest in the United States weighing between 30-40 pounds with a lifespan of 6-10 years.
Along the road in the Lamar Valley we stopped to photograph a coyote pair howling in unison, proclaiming ownership of a baby bison carcass.
Unfortunately, it appears that the baby bison injured itself and was unable to survive in the harsh environment. In just one night, the bison went from death to a nearly stripped carcass. It may be gruesome to us, but it is the reality of life and death in Yellowstone.
The coyotes took possession of the carcass, had their fill, then moved on to dessert.
They had no competition, which was surprising, since there were 3 wolf packs within 2-5 miles of the carcass. Maybe they were too far away to get the scent or maybe they were occupied with other prey. For example, we know that the Lamar Canyon pack was busy devouring an elk carcass 2 miles away.
Such is life in Yellowstone – never a dull moment.
For other stories on coyotes in Yellowstone see: