A lone wolf stands out on the horizon near Bondurant in 2017 in this photograph by Wyoming Game and Fish Department communication and information specialist Mark Gocke. (Mark Gocke/Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

In mid February, Mark Gocke, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department employee in Jackson, took the scenic route on his way to a routine visit to Pinedale in the hopes of getting a photograph. A communication and information specialist, he uses his camera for his job, but most of his wildlife photographs are taken on his own time. This one was an exception.

On a back road in Bondurant in mid February, he saw a canid on the crusted snow and at first thought it was a coyote. “But as I approached closer I could see that it had the bulk and longer legs of a wolf,” he wrote of his shot. He got off only a few frames before the wolf disappeared.

The color photograph was taken looking into the sun, which makes it appear black-and-white. Gocke has been photographing for 30 years. “I like to photograph most anything in front of me, whether it be my family or friends recreating, musicians or street scenes in the city, but most of my free time is spent photographing nature, particularly wildlife.”

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People who know his photography think that’s all he does for Game and Fish. “I wish that were true,” he said. “My time on the clock is spent working with the media and providing educational programs when I can. If I’m photographing wildlife while on the job, it’s usually an animal that needs help getting out of some predicament in a developed area or some species of fish, bird or mammal that is being captured for research purposes.

“Most all the ‘pretty pictures’ of wildlife I’ve taken have been made on my own time, unless I just happen to see something cool, like maybe a wolf, while on my way to some meeting or whatever,” he said.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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