Yellowstone wolf update.
Druid 103's group attacks Tower Pair. Mollies Pack lives off bison.
Here is the latest Yellowstone Park wolf news (with a few extras), most of which involves the unraveling of the giant Druid Peak Pack, but some other interesting news too.
Druid Peak Pack-
The only generalization to be made about the pack is that is seems to splintering further, and the Druid wolves have not, to the ranger's knowledge, approached humans on the NE entrance road so closely since they were recently scared with firecracker shells.
There are a number of groups of Druids, some of which will probably have pups in late April and become new packs.
Most interesting is Druid 103F's group of 3 wolves. Recently 103's group attacked the Tower Pair, 208M and an uncollared female. Both of the Tower Pair were injured, especially 208M; but were both seen recently in Antelope Creek, seemingly mostly healed. Folks may recall that 103F had her own litter of 3 pups last year, and got little help from the rest of the Druid Pack. Perhaps as a result, she weighed only 70 pounds when radio-collared this February. Last Friday her group was located in Elk Creek.
The original Druid group of 21M and 42F has had only 4 members of late. Yet last Friday that group was visually observed back to 12 wolves.
Druid 106F has led a group of 5 recently. Last Friday they were on Hellroaring slopes.
Druid 252M, a yearling, was recently observed to be with the Nez Perce Pack.
Yearling Druids 219 and 224 (both males) have dispersed out of the Park, and were located in Paradise Valley.
With a visual count of 10 wolves, this pack was located in its normal territory, the Pelican Valley, a deep snow area. More than any other pack, Molly's pack has taken to killing bison. There are few elk in the Pelican in the winter. Reports are that, as usual this time of year, the grizzlies are out in the Pelican trying to claim the bison kills from the wolves. Doug Smith is currently on skis in the area to see who is winning.
This was the first naturally formed pack in Yellowstone after the reintroduction, and it is still lead by wolf 2M and 7F (no 9's daughter born in Alberta). As usual, they were on the Blacktail Deer Plateau, but with a few members north on Rattlesnake Butte, just south of Gardiner.
Nez Perce Pack-
Since last fall there has been some instability in the Park's second largest pack. Recently several members were located on the northern range, but Friday the whole plak was sitting on the Porcupine Hills next to Nez Perce Creek, a couple miles north of Lower Geyser Basin.
Chief Joseph Pack-
It is not known which, or if this pack has a new alpha pair, having lost both 33F and 34M last year. Presumably it does. Chief Joe was located in one of its favorite non-Park places -- Tom Miner Basin -- north of the Park, where they denned one year.
Cougar Creek Pack-
This new pack, originated in 2001 was in the general Cougar Creek area, NE of West Yellowstone.
Rose Creek II Pack-
This formerly mighty pack has almost been pushed out of Park by the Druids. It has been hanging all winter in the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone area near Crevice Creek. It has 8 or 9 members.
Yellowstone Delta Pack-
Bad weather has prevented flights to the remote SE corner of the Park.
-Outside of Yellowstone-
Sheep Mountain Pack-
This is not a Park pack, but has been as usual ranging from about Dome Mountain, through the Daley Lake elk wintering range, north to about Chico Hot Springs. This is 15-30 miles north of the Park's north entrance.
The Taylor Peaks Pack-
This pack originated in 2000 just NW of Yellowstone. Then it moved west of the Park into the Taylor Peaks (or the Madison Range) and got its name. In 2001, its alpha female left (or was expelled) and had no pups. She was later found dead SW of Virginia City, MT. This winter the pack moved more to the northwest, and last Tuesday they killed a blue heeler dog on Dave Henderson's ranch near Cameron, Montana. In an article in the Bozeman Chronicle, Joe Fontaine expressed the view the pack was getting ready to den in the area and might have been out eliminating what it perceives as competition. I understand Henderson is not a typical rancher, but a conservation-oriented rancher. Hopefully this will have a happy ending.
This Grand Teton National Park border pack still has all 12 of its members -- 3 adults and 9 almost-yearlings. On March 21, 4 of the pups were radio collared. The pack spent the winter in the Gros Ventre drainage about which there was much newspaper controversy of the pack eating the elk on the state feedground. As of 2 weeks ago, however, only about 12 kills by the pack from the feedground could be identified. The pack killed mostly non-feedground, free-ranging elk.
Gros Ventre Pack-
Most of this winter this pack did not winter in the Gros Ventre drainage, sharing the elk with the Teton Pack. It mostly dwelt over the mountains in the upper Green River River. One member of the pack and a presumed mate moved to an elk feedground in a remote location further south near Pinedale, WY.
No wolves of any kind were identified this winter in the National Elk Refuge just north of Jackson, Wyoming. The wolves seem to prefer the river valleys more than this wide open flat.
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