The high mortality rate of Yellowstone wolves in the summer
of 1996 compared to 1995 continues. Two more wolves are dead
They are yearling wolf 20M from the Rose Creek Pack and the
alpha female of the Chief Joseph Pack, wolf 32F.
ROSE CREEK DEATH
Park biologists received a mortality signal on no. 20 on Friday
June 21. They recovered the body of the young male, born to
no. 9F in April 1995, from Buffalo Creek, a tributary of Slough
Creek. There is speculation that the yearling died as a result
of the recent fight in the vicinity between the Rose Creek and
Druid Peak packs, although observers of the territorial conflict
indicated that it appeared the Druid Peak pack had gotten the
worst of the fight.
I have delayed announcing this in the hope that the necropsy
would give a definite cause of death because the yearling had
few external signs of trauma other than a few scrapes on its
hindlegs and a rash.
Six of the eight pups born to 9F shortly after her mate 10M
was shot near Red Lodge, Montana, in April 1995 are still alive.
The other dead pup is 22M. It was hit by a UPS Delivery truck
in the Park last winter.
CHIEF JOSEPH ALPHA FEMALE DEATH
This is human-caused traffic death. According to a Yellowstone
Park news release, no. 32F was killed at about 2 a.m. on the
morning of June 25 near milepost 13 on U.S. 191 inside Yellow-
stone Park. She was hit by a semi tractor-trailor.
The driver said he was going southbound on 191 when he saw some
elk and a wolf on the west side of the highway. He attempted to
move over to the other lane to avoid the wildlife when no. 32
darted out from the other side of the road in front of the vehicle.
The driver went on to West Yellowstone, Montana, and immediately
reported the incident. When Park rangers arrived at the site they
saw another wolf but were not able to find a dead or injured wolf.
The returned again at first light and found the dead female.
"This is a very unfortunate incident because the loss of any animal
from this small population is a great loss to the restoration program.
The wolf was in excellent condition and would have been a great
asset to the recovery process." This statement was issued by Yellow-
stone Park superintent Finley. He urged visitors to be extremely
cautious at night in the park due to the presence of wildlife on the
No. 32F was captured this winter in NE British Columbia. She and
three other wolves were held in the Crystal Bench acclimation pen,
but they were released on April 11, 1996 near Nez Perce Creek on
about ten miles north of the Old Faithful area. The fouth member of
the pack has tended not to stay with the other three. This death
may well seriously disrupt the pack.
U.S. 191 should be closed to commercial truck traffic at night. This
highway, not really considered as one of Park roads, cuts through
the extreme northwest section of Yellowstone and heads northward
down the Gallatin Canyon to near Bozeman, Montana.
The speed limit is higher than other Park roads. US 191 is straigher,
and it is far above the mean for road kill (of both humans and
wildlife) compared to other Park roads per vehicle mile traveled.
I'm sure the residents of Gallatin Canyon too would sleep better if
semi-trucks no longer roared down the wildlife-filled canyon all night,
including the winter months.
Driving anywhere at night in Yellowstone is very dangerous. Do people
know what it is like to hit a bison? Not many live to tell.
© 1996 Ralph Maughan
Not to be reprinted, archived, redistributed, etc., without permission.
© 1996 Ralph Maughan