Yellowstone wolf update: Late November 1997

Number 37 also escapes from the Nez Perce Pen

11-24-97 (rev. 11-25)

Here is the latest on the Yellowstone wolves. Please compare this to my report of 11-16-97.

Leopold Pack.
For the first time this seldom-seen pack has moved off the Blacktail Deer Plateau and was found on top of Mt. Everts to the plateau's north.  Mt. Everts is the flat-top, steep-sided mountain so visible just to the NE of Mammoth Hot Springs.

Druid Peak Pack.
As is frequently the case, this 11-member pack was found in the Lamar Valley. What is interesting is that the "white wolf", no. 39F seems to have left the pack again, and no. 41F is in the process of being expelled.

Chief Joseph Pack.
Number 33F and 34M were located in the Madison Valley on the west side of the Park. A visual sighting was made of five wolves. This means that at least three of the five pups survived the summer.

Chief Joseph Pack, no. 2.  This is my designation for no. 16F and her surviving pups. After whelping five pups in Daly Creek last spring, she was injured either on U.S. 191 speedway or perhaps by wolf no. 33F. During this time she lost one pup to the U.S. 191 death trap. She also disappeared for a while, but eventually turned up in Tom Miner Basin north of the Park and then back in Daly Creek.

She was last located in Hellroaring Creek with two pups, probably no. 109 and 111. This was a big movement eastward for her, out of the Gallatin Range and back into the country inhabited by her old pack -- the Rose Creek. By late November she was back in the Gallatin Range and north of the Park in Cinnabar Basin. It was reported she was with one pup, no. 111. Number 109 was not sighted.

Rose Creek Pack.
The pack was located in Hellroaring Creek (a major tributary of the Yellowstone, which rises north of the Park and flows southward to join the Yellowstone). Fifteen animals were observed in the pack.  We saw 13 in Crystal Creek in late October. A friend recently saw 14 of the pack (story by Drusha Mayhue). The pack had 21 as the summer began.  Its actual size at the present is not known. Both no. 9F and her daughter no. 18F (mothers of this year's pups) are with the pack; so it looks like it has not split into two groups.

Soda Butte Pack.
Ever since its release in October 1996 after its recapture, this pack has been at or near Heart Lake in the south central Yellowstone backcountry.  This is a very deep snow area in the winter, and I was surprised that they spent all last winter there. They probably made their living off animals that wintered at Heart Lake Geyser Basin.  I mention this because the pack has moved south to the Snake River. They are still in the Park, but this may be significant because the Snake flows out of the Park and down into Jackson Hole. Will they follow this river down or return to Heart Lake?

Thorofare Pack.
This pack was located as usual in the deep backcountry called the "Thorofare" near the SE corner of Yellowstone Park.

Crystal Creek Pack.
After exploring the east shore of Yellowstone Lake for the first time, the Crystal Creek Pack has moved back to the Pelican Valley, the vicinity where it has spent the last year.

Washakie Pack.
The Washakie Pack, as of a week ago, had moved down out of the DuNoir drainage into Long Creek, which is a bit to the southwest.  I hope they will head westward over the top to Jackson Hole rather than head down the Wind River to Dubois and people and wintering cows.

Nez Perce Pack (in the Nez Perce enclosure sort of).
Number 37F, 29's mate has now escaped the Nez Perce enclosure as well. How they do it, is not clear. The enclosure is a very substantial structure. No. 29 had been hanging around the pen, but now with his mate free they have headed west. Let's hope they don't go to Dillon again. Although it is not at clear that 29 and 37 have killed any livestock, they will probably be shot. Recall the statement from that one Dillon rancher, "they came out as killer packs" That was a memorable quote and is the perception of a fair number of livestock interests.

Left behind in the pen is one of 29 and 37's pups born last spring and two Sawtooth yearlings who had been penned with them for almost a year and had clearly joined the pack (unlike their brothers and sisters who dispersed to the four directions). The future for them doesn't look so good either, because here are three wolves that don't know how to hunt very well.

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