Whatever ever happened to the first litter of Rose Creek Pups?

9-20-97 updated November 2001

Everyone now knows the story of how in the spring of 1995, a month after their release, the two adult members of the Rose Creek Pack migrated over the Beartooth Mountains to Mount Maurice above Red Lodge, Montana.

Chad McKittrick soon shot bold wolf no. 10. As a result Ten's mate, no. 9 was forced to bear a litter of eight in a makeshift den. The eight pups were luckily discovered by biologists and returned to Yellowstone to safely grow in the Rose Creek enclosure. There they spent the summer of 1995. However, a late summer windstorm blew trees down across the enclosure and most of the pups escaped. Some of the pups were captured and returned to the enclosure, but the rest stayed nearby and made the acquaintance of wolf no. 8, a subordinate male from the Crystal Creek Pack.  No. 8 was nearby when no. 9 and her pups were released in October. He immediately achieved a great elevation in wolf social status. Number 8 became, the alpha male of the Park's largest wolf pack until his natural death in 1999.

During the next four springs, number nine had four more litters of pups. Her lineage is represented in more than half of the wolves living today in the Yellowstone Country.

I thought it would be interesting to summarize what happened to the original eight pups. The pups, at least those alive, are now 6 1/2 years old.

The pups were assigned numbers 16 though 23.

No. 16F. Color=black. Dead. She dispersed from the Rose Creek pack in December 1996 and mated with no. 34M of the Chief Joseph Pack. She whelped at least five pups by herself at a den in Daly Creek at the NW corner of the Park in April 1997. She received  no help from no. 34.  In August 1997 she was injured by a vehicle on US 191. She slowly recovered from her injuries and reunited with one of her pups. One pup was killed, however, on U.S. highway 191. The other pups disappeared. Her sole surviving pup died the next summer. Meanwhile she mated again with roving no. 34 from Chief Joseph pack number one, and whelped perhaps six pups in April 1998. By winter 1998-9 these pups had grown large and her pack, Chief Joseph Two, had attracted several adult wolves.  Her color had changed from black to black and gray (the color of her mother no. 9, when brought from Alberta in 1995). Her pack has developed into a major wildlife feature just north of the Park between Gardiner and Dome Mountain. 

In the fall of 1999 her pack began to kill some cow calves and even adult steers in the Paradise Valley, probably because the abnormally warm fall had caused the elk to stay and the wolves had expected the elk to come lower. In response Wildlife Service conducted aggressive control and killed six of pack, including the alpha male. As a result no. 16 had no pups in 2000. When the pack killed some more calves in early summer of 2000, 4 of the 6 remaining in the pack were captured for aversive conditioning to livestock (shock collar training as used with dogs). No. 16 was among the 4, however, after several months she died in captivity, apparently from overhandling. The remaining two were killed -- one by accident when a tranquilizer dirt deflated her lung, the other on purpose when they could not successful capture her.

No. 17F. Color=gray. Dead. She also dispersed from Rose Creek in December 1996, and mated with the same wolf, no. 34M. She whelped five pups in a den on the outskirts of Gardiner, Montana. No. 34 did attend to 17's litter (and ignored no. 16F's). However, in mid-July 1997, no. 17F mortally injured herself by impaling on a branch of dead fallen timber while chasing prey. No. 34M was soon joined by his ex pack mate no. 33F. Together they raised the pups and are the present alpha pair of the Chief Joseph I pack.

No. 18F. Color=black. Number 18 is still with, and is the alpha female of the Rose Creek Pack. She whelped a large litter (eleven) of her own in April 1997. The father was probably the Pack's alpha male, number 8. The pups are numbered 77 - 84, plus 101 and 102. She had another litter (this time in the same den as her mother) in April 1998. Its size was unknown because the pups were never differentiated from those of her mother. Most of these pups are still alive. She had litters again in 1999, 2000, and 2001.. At present her pack has split in two. The new pack has been named the Tower Pack  

No 19F. Color=black. Dead. Number 19 whelped a litter of four in Slough Creek in April 1997. The father was probably her brother, number 21. She was soon killed by other wolves, perhaps her own pack; but most likely a nearby pack, the aggressive Druids, who were radio-located in the vicinity of her den on the day it is believed she was killed. Her four pups died of exposure.

No. 20M. Color=black. Dead. Number 20 was killed in the now-famous inter-pack fight between Rose Creek and the Druids in late June of 1996. He was a year old. He probably pursued the retreating Druids too far on his own.

No. 21M. Color=black. Number 21 stayed with the pack longer than most of the pups, and he was observed mating with his sister, no. 19F,  in early 1997.  In December 1997, no. 21 dispersed and became the alpha male of the famous and highly visible Druid Peak Pack, the Rose Creek Pack's arch rival. The acceptance ritual of no. 21 into the Druid Peak Pack was filmed by cinematographer Bob Landis, and is the only photographic record of such an event. Since joining the Druids, it has become a massive pack with well over 30 members.

No. 22M. Color=black. Dead. Number 22 ran into a UPS truck on a December night in 1995. Investigation indicates the pup was at fault because the pup ran into the rear of the truck. No. 22 was still a pup, about 8 1/2 months old.

No. 23M. Color=black. Fate unknown. Number 23 was never given a radio color. He was a pup that was never recaptured after the mid-August windstorm allowed his escape from the Rose Creek enclosure. Twenty-three dispersed from the pack in December 1996. There is no reason to think no. 23 is dead, but he is unmonitorable, and given the years that have passed mortality is likely.

In summary, five of the litter are dead. The fate of one is not known.

The mother of them all, no. 9, is still alive, although she left the Rose Creek Pack late in 1999. She is part of the Beartooth Pack east of the Park. As of late 2001, that pack which formed in early 2000 consists of her daughter 153F (from a 1998 litter), an alpha male and at least 3 pups. Her daughter is the alpha female.

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