The Soda Butte Pack, including 3 new pups, is captured


The following is a news release from Yellowstone Park. A few comments of mine follow.

On Wednesday, June 6, USFWS and NPS biologists conducted a successful capture operation of all but one of the Soda Butte Pack. The purpose of the capture was to move the pack from their den location near the West Rosebud Creek drainage on private property far north of Yellowstone Park to the Crystal Creek Bench enclosure pen in the NE corner of Yellowstone National Park.

Two wolves, #13 and #24, were darted from the helicopter and tranquilized for their flight to the park. #13 is the alpha male and #24 is a female yearling that was born last year in the Beartooth Mountains just north of Yellowstone Park

Three pups (approximately 6 weeks old) were captured inside the den and accompanied the two older wolves on the flight to the Crystal Bench pen. They were placed in the pen around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. All five wolves are doing fine.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, foot-hold traps were set to try to capture the remaining two wolves -- no. 14F, the alpha female, and no. 15M. When biologists checked the traps on Thursday morning, no. 14 had been captured. Attempts were made to capture no. 15, a two-year old male. However, they were unsuccessful.

The alpha female was reunited with the rest of the pack in the Crystal Bench pen at approximately 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

A monitoring flight is scheduled for Friday, June 7.

The Soda Butte pack seemed to have taken up permanent residence on the Beartooth Front, an interface between wilderness and farms, between the mountains and the plains. The presence of the large Rose Creek pack, the new Druid Peak pack, the naturally-formed Leopold Pack, and the two remaining wolves of the Crystal Bench pack, all to the south; I think made Soda Butte's natural movement back into the mountains unlikely.

Wolf #24, the only pup born last year, had not previously been seen closely. This wolf has always been referred to as R24?. She will now be R24F.

The next questions are, how, when and where will the pack be released? The simple and successful scenario of R9F and her 8 pups (Rose Cr.) from last year is not likely, in my estimation. This is because the Lamar Valley area in which the Crystal Creek Bench pen is now full of wolves. The eastern, southeastern, and southwestern parts of the Park are still "wolfless". The eastern and southeastern have plenty of prey for wolves. Unfortunately, the Park Service may not have the funds to build an enclosure in any of these areas to hold the newly-enlarged Soda Butte Pack -- another difficulty that stems from the success of wolf opponents cutting the budget -- an outcome that serves neither the wolves, their opponents, or their supporters.

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1996 Ralph Maughan
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