Here are the results of the latest Yellowstone tracking flights (done 11-13) plus some additional observations and history.
Leopold Pack. As usual this pack was on the Blacktail Deer Plateau.
Druid Peak Pack. All of this pack survived the summer, including the five pups. Eleven strong, they are still found almost every day in the Lamar Valley, Soda Butte Creek and the slopes of the surrounding mountains.
When we visited Yellowstone in late October, three of them were sitting on the lowest slope of Mt. Norris, just above the Lamar River trail; but they were out of sight for the hikers going up the trail (who very probably looking for wolves). We observed them through binoculars after Rick McIntyre pointed their location to our group.
I have heard recent observers say that the pack may be trying to drive off no. 39F, the white wolf; and suggestions that she may have become the omega wolf.
Chief Joseph Pack. Number 33F and 34M were not located on the most recent flight. During the summer and early fall they were located traveling all over the Gallatin mountain range inside the Park. At times pups were seen with them (of which there were originally five, born to 34's late mate, no. 17F).
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.
Daly Creek. Nov. 8, 1997. Late afternoon
sun shining under a gathering storm.
Copyright © Ralph Maughan
Last weekend I walked up Daly Creek to see if I could spot the pack, but all I found was some old scat, possibly wolf. The tracks I saw were elk and coyote. Today I learned she (no. 16F) was located in Hellroaring Creek with two pups, probably no. 109 and 111. This is a big movement eastward for her, out of the Gallatin Range and back into the country inhabited by her old pack -- the Rose Creek.
Rose Creek Pack. This greatly enlarged pack was located today in Cottonwood Creek near the north boundary of the Park. Cottonwood Creek is a minor drainage that runs off of Hellroaring Mountain into the Yellowstone River in the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. Don't confuse the Black Canyon with the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone which lies southward and upstream.
It isn't clear how many members this pack has now, and if they have split in two. At their peak strength in June 1997, they numbered 21. We counted 13 of them in the backcountry on Specimen Ridge in late October. We believe there were additional pups in the brush we didn't see. Our story.
Since they came down off the Buffalo Plateau where they summered, they have been observed in Slough Creek, Antelope Creek (just north of Mt. Washburn), Pleasant Valley (at Tower Junction), Little America (the boulder-strewn area near Junction Butte), the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, and we saw them for four hours in Crystal Creek and on top of Specimen Ridge.
Soda Butte Pack. As they have been for over a year now, the pack was located near Heart Lake in the backcountry. Perhaps they will be renamed the Heart Lake Pack after the last member who was released at Soda Butte Creek in March 1995, dies. That's no. 14F, the alpha female, who has whelped three litters since she was released in 1995.
Thorofare Pack. This deep backcountry pack was located on the Two Ocean Plateau just to the west of the valley of the upper Yellowstone River.
Crystal Creek Pack. For the first time in a long while this pack was not located in the Pelican Valley area. They were found on the east shore of Yellowstone Lake.
Washakie Pack. After losing their alpha male, no. 15M (introduced as part of the Soda Butte Pack in 1995) the pack has left the DuNoir Valley for another drainage. I didn't learn which one. They remain far south of Yellowstone National Park. Number 15 was shot by the ADC after killing a number of cattle on the nearby Diamond G Ranch.