Yellowstone wolf update late Jan. 1997. Wolf 28M dead

1-29-97

Here is the latest news I've gathered about the Park wolves (mostly courtesy Yellowstone Park with my interpretations added).

There appears to be a new mortality -- no. 28M. Wolf trackers have received a mortality signal on wolf no. 28M near Three Forks, Montana. There are no details yet. No. 28 was the alpha in the Half Way Pack captured in British Columbia early in 1996, and the father of nos. 26, 29, 30, and 37 plus no. 27's five pups born last April. Twenty-eight has been a lone wolf, however, since its release from the Nez Perce enclosure last spring.

Data collected in early 1996 indicated that upon capture in B.C. , no. 28 was the largest wolf captured for release in Yellowstone -- 135 pounds. I have heard that an equally large wolf was released in central Idaho last winter, but I never got its number.

Three Forks is where the Madison, Gallatin, and Jefferson Rivers all run together forming the Missouri.

ROSE CREEK PACK
It does appear that some dispersal is taking place in the Park's largest pack. Once again the wolves that seem to be straying are the two yearling females nos. 16 and 17. They were located on the west side of the Park with nos. 31M and 33F of the Chief Joseph Pack. Readers may recall that no. 31M had left the Chief Joseph pack last fall seemingly to join the Druid Peak Pack. My recent conclusion that the Chief Joseph Pack is no more might have to be revised.

All of the radio-collared members of the Rose Creek Pack, except nos. 16 and 17, were most recently located on the Buffalo Plateau which overlooks the Lamar Valley from the north. The Buffalo Plateau is in the extreme northeastern part of Yellowstone, so nos. 16 and 17 are a long way from their pack.

DRUID PEAK PACK
This pack presently has four members. They were all located at Soda Butte in Soda Butte Creek -- their usual territory. Former alpha female no. 39, the "white wolf", has not been located for some time. She was last located in the Castle Mountains far north of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

LEOPOLD PACK All five members were located on the Blacktail Deer Plateau. This has been the case since no. 7F and 2M paired last winter. The other three wolves are their pups from 1996. This has certainly been a predictable and (from the human viewpoint) a well-behaved pack.

CRYSTAL CREEK PACK
The two remaining members have migrated out of the fringes of the Lamar Valley southward to the Pelican Valley. It appears they have been there for about a month. The Pelican is, in the summer, a wildlife-rich area just north by northeast of Yellowstone Lake.

SODA BUTTE PACK
After their re-release last October at Trail Creek near the Thorofare, they migrated to the area near Heart Lake and have remained there since. They were last located a little bit north of Heart Lake. I find this interesting because it is a very heavy snow area, even more so than usual this year.

Pair 15M and 26F
This pair formed when no. 15 (originally of the Soda Butte Pack) was re-released at Nez Perce Creek last September. About a month ago they were located near Dubois, Wyoming about 25 miles southeast of Yellowstone Park, and they have been near the East Fork of the Wind River in the foothills of the Absaroka Range's southern flank. I have no more information about uncollared, unknown black wolf that has been seen near 15 and 26 and also in the Buffalo Valley on the west side of Togwotee Pass. It occurred to me that this could be an uncollared dispersing yearling from the Rose Creek Pack or a migrant from NW Montana.

Pair 35M and 30F
This pair formed last summer, spending much time along the Yellowstone Park/Teton Wilderness boundary. They have been, and still are in the Thorofare, the most remote part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

No. 27
As I indicated in a recent article, no. 27 was finally captured. I believe she is in the new Pelican Valley enclosure by herself. Her three pups (48, 49 and 50) from last spring were not captured. They are all uncollared and their whereabouts unknown. There is every reason to think they are unharmed and still on the Beartooth Front. Their uncollared status makes them much harder to capture and remove from the Front to placate local livestock interests. It also makes it easier to shoot them and get away with it.

I have no information on the Idaho wolves. New information seems to have almost disappeared, probably due to a shortage of funds. There is, however, a huge elk winterkill taking place near Challis and Salmon, Idaho. This might attract wolves.



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© 1997 Ralph Maughan
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