Seige of Slough den changes to a routine

April 25, 2006

The unknown pack is still generally occupying the Slough Creek Pack's den area, but the trapped Slough females have taken advantage of the unknown pack's hunting and sleeping routine to leave their natal den and seek water and perhaps food.

The unknown pack usually takes a long nap about midday and in the early evening they go hunting to return before sunrise. The two Slough females 380F and 527F, who almost certainly have pups in the den, have noticed this and come out and walk around. A day ago 527F came out and left for some time, but was back in the den in the morning. Both wolves were on the ridgeline recently. Eventually the unknown pack spotted them, and it was a race to the den with the Sloughs running downhill and the unknowns uphill towards to den. The Sloughs made it.

While the unknown pack's routine is an aide to the besieged mother wolves, they can't count on all the wolves to be asleep. If you have watched a pack sleep, it is not unusual for one or two to wake up every once and while, stretch and look around.

From time to one or more of the 3 yearling Sloughs have joined the two Slough females in the den as well as adult wolf 526F. Are they bringing food? Meanwhile the alpha male 490M and beta 377M, another Slough male ("sharp right"?) and a new female have been hunting in the Lamar Valley. The Slough nicknamed "Slight Right" has not been seen since near the beginning of the seige when he approached the den area, noticed something was wrong and took off. The uncollared gray female of the Sloughs who was thought to have been pregnant too has not been seen since before the seige began. She might be denned elsewhere or dead (perhaps killed when 489M was killed by other wolves, probably the unknowns when they were first moving into the area).

The unknown pack's subordinate female who was thought to be pregnant may well not be. She kind of looks pregnant, but according to Rick McIntrye it might be that her body just has a bulge or perhaps she mated very late in the season.

I asked what would happen to the Slough pups when they came out of the den? I thought the unknown pack would quickly kill them, but McIntrye said a more benign outcome was possible as all wolves seem to like pups. They probably would not be directly harmed.

McIntrye said it is possible that the two packs may learn to cooexist after a fashion. The unknowns seem to be satisfied living in the mouth of Slough Creek area and the Slough females have not abandoned their pups.

The physical condition of the Slough females is unknown. The demands on them for nutrition and fluids are very high. McIntyre said that from a mile away, through the scope, 527F looked fine. However, at that distance the fine details of a wolf cannot be seen even if the image is fairly large.

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