Yellowstone Wolf Update: Druid Peak Alpha Male dies of illegal gunshot wounds; and much more!
12-17-97 (update on 12-18) (additional information from Kevin Sanders on 12-30-97. Please check his page on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1 for new information)
Although it was not released to the public when it was reported the Druid Peak beta male, no. 31M, had been illegally shot south of Cooke City, Montana; the alpha male number 38M was wounded.
Big number 38 has now died of his wound. He lingered for eleven days in the remote Hoodoo Creek area before dying. He lived for a while on meat dropped to him by Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone wolf team. Both slain wolves were large. Number 31M weighed 120 pounds.
The Druid Peak pack now consists of no. 40F and no. 42F, both captured in British Columbia and released from the Rose Creek pen in March 1996. The other adult in the pack is no. 21M, from the Rose Creek Pack (one of no. 9F's eight pups from the spring of 1995). Also with the pack are the five well fed pups. Therefore, the pack now numbers eight. The pack seems to be back in its normal range, the Lamar Valley.
Kevin Sanders and Bob Landis were able to observe four of the Druids today, Dec. 30. They saw new member no. 21M, no. 41F (who has now returned from over the Absaroka crest), 40F, and 42F. They did not see the pups. Number 21M is well-accepted by the pack. Number 40F has an injured rear leg. Number 41F is still not allowed to rejoin the pack, but remains off to the side.
Bob Landis was able to video the entire ritual several weeks ago whereby Rose Creek male, no. 21 was accepted into the Druid Peak Pack. The whole thing took about five hours. A number of folks had emailed me asked how long this acceptance ritual went on.
Former pack member no. 41F was apparently driven off and was last reported in the Sunlight Basin area to the NW of Cody. No. 39F also left again and has not been located. In a way this is not surprising because the pack was top heavy with adult females. Number 39F seems to be completely gone. She hasn't been been radio tracked for over a month.
Here is the latest on the rest of the Yellowstone area wolves:
Soda Butte Pack
The pack has not descended into Jackson Hole yet. It has been in Pacific Creek for about five days. This is to the NE of Grand Teton National Park inside the Teton Wilderness. Doug Smith observed them from the air -- seven of them trying to kill a healthy bull elk from a among a group of six bulls. The Jackson Hole Guide said Smith felt this meant they had not discovered the huge herd to the south on and near the National Elk Refuge. Otherwise, they wouldn't take on the difficult and dangerous task of killing a healthy bull.
The extended elk hunt in the Jackson area resulted in over 300 more elk taken, but the total number of elk wintering on or near the Refuge (where they are fed food pellets) is still going to be about 17,000, quite a bit above the desires of federal wildlife people and Wyoming Game and Fish.
Some people might see a contradiction between the feeding of elk at Jackson and the natural management (no feeding) of elk and bison on, and near the northern range of Yellowstone. Wyoming feeds elk. Montana and Idaho do not. There is a difference in management philosophies. Because the city of Jackson sits on the prime winter range, the National Elk Refuge was created north of town many years ago. Elk have been fed there more many years. The dense concentration of elk, however, facilitates the spread of brucellosis through the herd. It is much higher than with the bison in Yellowstone -- just another irony in the bison slaughter controversy.
Crystal Creek Pack
The pack has mostly remained in the Pelican Valley, but it has also been exploring the east shore of Yellowstone Lake again.
The Pelican Valley just before a summer storm. The
Pelican is some of the lushest summer time wildlife
habitat in Yellowstone. It sees few people because
no camping is allowed, and it is totally closed for half
the summer -- grizzly bears.
Photo: copyright Ralph Maughan
Rose Creek Pack
The Park's largest pack has been all over the Slough Creek, Hellroaring Creek, lower Lamar Valley area.
Chief Joseph Pack
No. 33F and 34M and pups have been in the NW part of Yellowstone, mostly in the Gallatin Range near Fawn Pass and nearby area.
They have been moving in and out of the Park (into the Teton Wilderness) in the remote Thorofare area -- their usual territory.
This pack has been moving ever so slightly into positions that people can see after two years of invisibility. They have been moving from the Blacktail Deer Plateau (inaccessible to the public) to Swan Lake Flat and even up above Mammoth on Sepulcher Mountain and close the North Entrance of the Park.
No. 16 and pup 111F
She has been most recently near Eagle Creek and Jardine, Montana (on the mountain north of Gardiner, just north of the Park).
Lone wolf no. 29M
He has been hanging around the Nez Perce Pen, still waiting for his pup and the two Sawtooth yearlings inside. ADC popped his mate about three weeks ago near Dillon, Montana.
I understand (from non-Park sources) that they are still in the DuNoir, and that there are new uncollared wolves in the area.
All of these wolves will be shot if the Farm Bureau gets its way. But, hey, what about the new uncollared wolves in the DuNoir? How do they know they aren't "native" wolves -- the very "guys" which Judge Downes said he was trying to protect when he gave his decision last week?
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