Sunday, September 22, 2013

Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, West Yellowstone, Montana

Warning – TONS and TONS of pictures!!! :-)

We had absolutely no plans to visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center while here. However, after talking with a NPS Ranger, we learned that this was really a great place that takes in grizzlies and wolves with nowhere else to go and that the animals live in natural areas with a focus on education humans while enriching the lives of the grizzlies and wolves.
For $10.50 per adult, one gets a two-day pass, which was good, since we ended up spending about 1 ½ days there altogether!

There are two packs of wolves here, both from breeders who breed wolves for films and the entertainment industry. (Again, like Oswald Bear Ranch, which rescues bears from beer breeders, who knew this was a business?!) Once each day the wolf packs are fed and this offers the visitors an opportunity to watch the wolves eat, how they interact with one another, and the dynamics of a wolf pack.  

We watched the feedings three times. First, the High Country Wolf Pack was fed two pounds of meat each, then we watched as they discovered bones and scents left by the keepers while the wolves were eating.  This was very, very cool. 


The second time we watched the feeding, the keepers (after the two pounds of meat given to each wolf each day) put live trout in the pound, and we watched the wolves hunted (and subsequently ate) the fish. Quite interesting!

The third feeding was much like the first, however since not all the wolves chose to eat their meat dinner, there was no “enrichment” opportunity offered. Apparently, sometime a wolf doesn’t go in for a feeding, which is okay, but since the wolves have to be kept away from the human keepers, then there is no way for the people to go in and change the environment.

Here are just a ton more wolf pictures!  :-)
(Believe it or not, these were culled  from the hundreds we took!)

The bears are an assortment of bears from various places, some of which arrived to the center because they were habituated to human food and relocation efforts were not successful (one of the bears was relocated six times only to head back “home” each time).  Some of the bears arrived as cubs, after their mother disappeared or needed to be euthanized for one reason or another.

The bears are fed multiple times a day, so we watched as five bears were given fruits, vegetables, dog food, bird seed and more yummy treats. The keepers hid food under rocks, tree limbs, that sort of thing, and even hung some from a tree. The second time we watched the bears, they were also given tons of fruit and veggies, but also some of the same yummy live fish given to the wolves. (Who, incidentally, the wolves were much better at catching the fish!)

There are also movies shown throughout the day, such as the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone in 1995, how bears and wolves interact, as well as safe living/hiking/camping in bear country, etc….. Additionally, there are naturalists on hand to answer questions and give presentations, such as how to watch wildlife safely and the dynamics of the wolf pack. 

Also, there is a small bird aviary with birds of prey (a couple bald eagles, an owl, and two golden eagles) who for some reason or another are not able to survive in the wild (for example, one bald eagle had to have his wing amputated halfway down due to a gun shot, and the owl lost eyesight in one eye). 

Then, of course,  there was this crazy bear that had to be captured! :-)
All-in-all, a surprisingly excellent visit, again, two days’ worth of fun! Highly recommended if you’re in the area! 

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