Posted: Sep 7, 2012 10:34 PM by KTVQ (Billings)
Updated: Sep 7, 2012 10:34 PM
Yellowstone National Park wolf project leader Doug Smith snapped this photo last Friday, while tracking some of the park's wolf packs from the air.
Smith spotted a dead bull bison in the park's Hayden Valley, an apparent victim of a nasty encounter with another bull bison during the herd's annual rut.
As you can see, a very large grizzly bear has claimed the bison carcass as his own.
What you can't see, according to Smith, is the Canyon wolf pack lurking some 50 yards behind the grizzly, patiently waiting its turn on the carcass.
Smith says as his pilot circled around so he could get a better snapshot of the grizzly, he actually made eye contact with the bear.
As Smith tells it, he was glad his plane made it out safely because he was sure had he not, the grizzly bear had him in mind for his next meal.
Smith immediately alerted park officials, who promptly closed the Alum Creek trail in the Hayden Valley.
That trail is near the site of a fatal grizzly attack that occurred last summer.
Smith says each year several bull bison die from wounds suffered during their annual mating season from other bulls as they vie for supremacy among the females.
Smith says this year alone, four bull bison have been found dead as a result of the dangerous mating ritual.