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Field Journal: Gray Wolves of Yellowstone


Yellow Dave Friday, October 18, 1996

Feeding the captive wolves
Reported by Doug Smith

One of my favorite jobs is feeding the wolves. Since there are 12 wolves in the Rose Creek pen, I need to feed them 320 pounds of meat twice a week. The pen is a mile from the road, so it's too far to carry the meat. I use horses to carry all that weight that far. This is a common way to carry things in the western United States. The horse that I ride is called a saddle horse and I ride the same horse every time. His name is Buster. The horses that carry the meat are called pack horses, and their names are Max and Bruno. One horse can carry about 160 pounds, so I need two horses to feed the wolves. I was raised around horses, so I love this part of my job. I never thought that a wolf biologist would have to work with horses!

It takes about an hour to get the horses ready. I have to go into the corral, catch them (sometimes they don't want to be caught), brush them off, saddle them, and then load the meat. Max and Bruno don't seem to mind the meat, but I think Buster is so accustomed to have me ride him that he would not like to be a pack horse.

Buster has gone with me every time I've fed the wolves. He has been so many times that he knows the way to the pen without my telling him. I like working with animals more than machines because I can have this kind of experience. It's kind of nice. I just let Buster walk to the pen while I ride and think about other things. Sometimes I just enjoy the scenery.

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