Here is the latest full update on the Yellowstone wolves. There are 51 to 54 wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Fourteen are in captivity (including two wolves from Idaho). Forty wolves are free-ranging. 38 are known to be in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. There is one additional uncollared animal that may be native wolf. Here are the specifics.
Rose Creek Pack
I reported on January 9 that at least two of the female yearlings had separated from the pack and left the Park. They were observed with no. 34M of the Chief Joseph Pack. It can't be said for sure, because five members of the pack are not radio-collared, but it appears that the pack is back together at Rose Creek in Yellowstone Park's Lamar Valley.
Soda Butte Pack
Most folks will recall that this pack was captured last June on the Beartooth Front (rancher complaints; the wolves had done nothing). The pack was held all summer in the Crystal Creek pen, and, later, in the new Trail Creek pen, which is at a very remote site in SE Yellowstone. After their October release, the pack moved to a fairly remote location between Yellowstone and Heart Lakes in the south central part of Yellowstone. This is a very heavy winter snow area. I didn't think they would stay there, but just three days ago the pack was located between Heart Lake and West Thumb. There are some moose and a few elk that do stay in the area most winters.
I am a bit disappointed they didn't follow the elk migration south into Jackson Hole where over 7000 elk winter on the National Elk Refuge.
As has been the case throughout the existence of this now five-member pack (2 adults, 3 pups), they were located on the Blacktail Deer Plateau in northern Yellowstone. There may have been an interaction recently with one of the Rose Creek yearlings (there was some thought it had joined the Leopold Pack). This was apparently not so.
Druid Peak Pack This pack was near Soda Butte Creek. In a very interesting turn, two members of the apparently defunct Chief Joseph Pack have joined Druid Peak -- nos. 31M and 34M. Of course, no. 39F, the "white wolf", left the pack last summer and has wandered widely north of Yellowstone, all the way to the Castle Mountains which are outside the ecosystem. She has not been located for a month now (probably out of range).
Chief Joseph Pack> This pack seems to have distintegrated (see Druid Peak above). The remaining member (now lone wolf 33F) was located a few miles north of West Yellowstone, Montana.
Lone Star pair -- nos. 30F and 35M
After these two met last summer, they wandered along the southern boundary of Yellowstone and finally settled near Thorofare Creek, the most remote place in the ecosystem. Apparently they are wintering in the area. They were recently located on the Two Ocean Plateau, a very remote region just to the west of the Thorofare.
No name pair -- nos. 15M and 26F + unknown wolf
This pair formed in September when no. 15 (formerly of the Soda Butte Pack) was released from the Nez Perce pen. No. 15 immediately paired with no. 26 who was nearby. They eventually migrated south and were located in November near Togwotee Pass southeast of Yellowstone. Now they are in the East Fork of the Wind River, about 15 miles northeast of Dubois, Wyoming near the Washakie Wilderness. There is another animal, it appears to be a wolf, in this area. This uncollared animal is near to and has perhaps joined nos. 15 and 26. It could be a native wolf or a self-motivated disperser from NW Montana. It is probably not a released "pet" or a hybrid because it has been observed to be very efficient at killing deer and feeding itself. It has been observed among many cattle, but not paying them the least attention, nor they to it.
This big wolf has mostly been in the NW part of the eco-system in the Madison and Gallatin mountain ranges. It has not been located for several weeks.
Wolf 27F and her three pups
No. 27, the former mate of no. 28, has been on the Beartooth Front ever since giving birth to five pups last May. She has not killed any more domestic sheep since July. Attempts to capture her were put on hold when a big forest fire blew up in the area in September. They are now trying to recapture her and her pups. Although no one will say it, she has been a well-behaved wolf (except for killing, but not eating, 8-10 sheep), and she has raised three pups under unusual adversity.
It is solely pressure from the local royalty (ranchers) that is putting pressure to capture her, in my opinion (both the capture and the royalty). The Beartooth Front is natural wolf country and the rancher was compensated for his loss. There will be no way to keep wolves from this area.
The two captured Idaho wolves -- nos. B11F and B7M
This pair will not be released in Yellowstone. Plans are to take them back to Idaho in about a month. Hopes are that they will remained paired, have pups, but not return to Montana's Big Hole Valley where they killed at least one cow. They presently occupy the Nez Perce pen.
Of course, the big news today is not the wolves, it is the incredible bison slaughter the Park Service is being forced to carry out by the state of Montana. This could jeapordize Yellowstone's bison herd and indirectly affect the future of the wolves in many ways. What you can do.
© 1997 Ralph Maughan
Not to be reprinted, archived, redistributed, etc., without permission.
© 1997 Ralph Maughan