More on the death of wolf no. 7

May 25, 2002

Pack kills prolific wolf No. 7. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau.

The Billings Gazette above has a story giving more information about the recent death of the 8-year-old alpha female of the Leopold Pack, Wolf 7F.

Let me add still more information. Wolf No. 7 was probably killed by 106F's group of the Druid Pack. This Druid group, which is thought to have pups, will probably soon be designated as a new pack. Wolf 7 was found dead not far from an elk kill made by 106's group. The kill was near the territory boundary of the two packs. There is a small probability that a Druid group other than 106's killed her.

Wolf 7F, daughter of famous no. 9F, was almost as important as her mother. 7F produced 7 litters since her first pups in 1996. She and her mate Wolf 2M formed the most stable wolf pack in Yellowstone. Despite having litter after litter of pups, after the first 2 years the pack's size and territory remained stable. They occupy the Blacktail Deer Plateau, just south of the Mammoth to Tower Junction road, but the pack is rarely seen because of the compact size of its territory, and because the pack only rarely crosses the road.

Each year the pack has used the same den sites, and this year no. 7 was killed while still nursing her pups. Since then the pack appears to have moved her pups to a different, but previously-used den site. Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone wolf team, said that the pups were at the stage where weaning begins. However, weaning normally takes 3 to 4 weeks. He said "these pups will be weaned 'cold turkey'." Smith told me the survival of the pups is not certain, but he said the good news was that the Leopold Pack is multi-generational, compared to most non-Park packs which consist of the alpha pair, pups, and a few yearlings about to disperse. The stability of the Leopolds might make the death of the alpha female less likely to disrupt the pack. Packs often become unstable when either of the alphas is killed, but the alpha female is usually the most critical pack member.

As for her mother, Wolf 9F, who several years ago left the Rose Creek Pack she founded, eventually to join with her daughter Wolf 77F in the new (year 2000) Beartooth Pack, she has not been seen this winter. Mike Jimenez, confirmed yesterday that no. 9 had not been since last fall.

With the death of Wolf 7F, the disappearance of her mother, and the fracturing of the Druid Pack, an era of the Yellowstone wolves has ended this spring.

Wolf 7F and her son, Wolf 55M, during radio-collaring 1999. Courtesy NPS/Doug Smith

Wolf 7F nursing pups on the Blacktail Deer Plateau. Photo courtesy NPS/Doug Smith

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