Number 40F, Druid Alpha Female, killed by her pack members.
May 11, 2000, update (3) for May 12, article added later
A park visitor emailed me yesterday indicating that no. 40F, the long time alpha female of the Druid Peak Pack was killed yesterday.
This morning the Park Service confirmed the fact and indicated that no. 21M, the alpha male, and others of the pack are at her den site, where there is believed to be a litter of pups. Meanwhile, I have learned that another litter exists in the pack. It is across the Lamar Valley (south side) near Specimen Ridge at Amethyst Creek
Here is the email from Greg Best who found no. 40F. I want to thank him for permission to use his story.
I have visited Yellowstone for the last two years to view wildlife, primarily bears and wolves. This year I had the pleasure of viewing a Black Bear sow and three cubs for hours, and numerous bear and wolf sightings. The highlight of our Sunday evening was watching 40 F feeding on a kill under clear skies.
The next morning we were one of the first to find her. The hours that followed were quite emotional. I want to tell you that the dedication of the crews that came to the aid of 40 F astonished me. The compassion displayed by the Ranger, Biologists, and the "Wolf Guys" was exceptional. I am at a loss of words to describe how I felt and still feel about the loss of this animal. At least the event was not the fault of human interaction. The last word we had was the cause of death was an attack from another wolf.
As I looked into the eyes of 40 F as she struggled to hold on, has changed my life. My thoughts go out to those that have worked so hard to accomplish this reintroduction program and they have my admiration and support from here out. I will look forward to your updates on this issue.
It appears that 40's death was due to intra-pack rivalry, rather than an attack by wolves from another pack. The night before 40s death, she was seen, as usual, dominating her sister 42F, and daughter 103F. My assumption is that 40 was attacked and killed by 42 or, by 42, 103F and maybe also 105F. These three had localized at the new Amethyst Creek den site. This morning, 42F was seen carrying a pup from Amethyst Creek to the traditional den site of 40F on Druid Peak. The alpha male 21M has been seen attending both den sites.
It like there was a coup in the pack.
There had long been tension between 42F and her dominant sister 40F. Last year folks may recall 40F came by a separate den site 42F had dug, and forced her out of it. No pups were ever found in 42's abandoned den site, but there might have been pups before 40F came along.
Over two years ago 40F, drove her other sister 41F, out of the pack. 41F later met a disperser from the Rose Creek Pack. They moved to the east of the Park and are now the Sunlight Basin Pack. 39F, the presumed mother of 40, 41, and 42 (while they were in B.C.) also left (was driven from?) the pack early on. Note: 39F was the famous "White Wolf" who was eventually gunned down east of the Park by a cowboy who said he thought she was a coyote. He got a slap on the wrist -- a $500 fine.
Few folks realize that not all of what was named "the Druid Peak Pack" was released in Yellowstone. These wolves were captured in B.C. in 1996 as part of the "Bessa Creek Pack." A number of that pack were also released as individual wolves in Idaho in 1996, and most of them went on to prosper. Druid 38M, the pack's first alpha male was the one unrelated wolf. He came from another B.C. wolf pack.
This was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this afternoon.
In an almost Shakespearean twist, the alpha female of the Druid pack #40 was killed. The Druid pack is most famous for its aggressive behavior toward competitors, including the killing of other wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions. Saturday evening (5/6) the alpha female was seen aggressively "disciplining" her adult daughters. The next morning #40 was found severely wounded and very weak, she died shortly after. Wounds indicated she was killed by other wolves in her pack. Her pups are being cared for by other pack members. I guess even in nature there is something to the old adage "Live by the sword, die by the sword". It will be interesting to see if the pack's hostile disposition changes with her death. A full necropsy is being conducted to confirm the initial examination.
May 28, 2000. The media is finally really picking up on this story. Here is yet another excellent piece by Michael Milstein of the Billings Gazette. Natural Drama: Wolf pack’s activities like a soap opera
In the winter of 2000 Dr. Douglas Smith and Rick McIntrye wrote a very good story about the death of 40F in International Wolf. "The Death of a Queen: Yellowstone mutiny ends tyrannical rule over Druid Pack."
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