Dr. Douglas Smith provided me with a near complete pup count for the Park this year. He stressed that for the packs where all pups have been visually counted, this is a high count, meaning that already a few have disappeared, probably dead.

Most surprising to me was Oxbow with 12 pups, eleven still alive. This was an odd double liter — one female with eleven pups, one female with one (which has died). He believed that eleven pups is a record sized litter for a gray wolf.

Slough Creek Pack, which had multiple litters, had the high count in the Park with 13 pups.

The Agates had 9 pups.

Druids had 6. Delta had 6. The Hayden Valley Pack, for the first time had an average sized litter — 6 pups. That’s now down to five. In the past, their litters were very small.

The new Gardiner’s Hole Pack (which has replaced the Swan Lake Pack almost exactly in terriotory) had 5 pups.

Mollies Pack had 4 or 5 pups.

The Leopolds, who have often had large litters, had just 4 pups.

The Snake River Pack which formed last year and had about 5 pups, but then moved south of Yellowstone Park, returned to den in the Park and had 4 pups.

Cougar Creek has a count of only one, but that pack lives in the thick regenerating lodgepole pine and probably has more than one.

Still unknown is the Gibbon Pack (which acted as though it denned and probably did) and the Bechler Pack. The SW corner of the Pack is the home of the Bechler Pack, but they haven’t been located on the last two flights.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

8 Responses to Pup count for Yellowstone Park

  1. Good news! Despite that uncertain future they face. Just learnt, that our two oldest established packs her in Germany again have pups confirmed, albeit not the total number. Evidence came from track searching and…a hunter, who took his camera not his rifle! Latest news is that a third pack has establishment there territory being kept secret for the time being. Sorry folks, just had to share this news with somebody!

  2. Thank you, Peter.

    It is great news!

  3. avatar Patti says:

    Fabulous site!

    Live southeast of Denver; husband is working in Billings this week; sent him up early to have an opportunity to go over to Lamar Valley and observe wolves in the Soda Butte area (where we have historically enjoyed watching them)… all he saw was fishermen… he has one more chance to go back to the park, this Friday,… someone mentioned that there is a den that is viewable close to a picnic area where Otter Creek flows into the Yellowstone… is this the Mollie Pack? Any other spots that I might send him to?

    THANKS!!!
    Patti

  4. Patti,

    The wolves are not at their dens anymore, but the Agates have usually been seen from the road over Mt. Washburn — on the north side, about half way up, overlooking Antelope Creek.

    The Hayden Valley Pack is generally seen in the vicinity just to the south of Canyon. Yes around where Otter Creek flows into the Yellowstone River.

    Mollies is almost always in the backcountry, although sometimes wolves are spotted by tourists in the Hayden Valley proper. It could be the Gibbon Pack, the Haydens, or Mollies if you see them out in Hayden Valley.

    Lower Slough Creek and Little America are still pretty good places.

  5. avatar Dan says:

    Patti,
    The Hayden wolves and their 5 pups have been very visible in the mornings and late evenings across the river from the otter creek picnic area. Tell your husband to go south from Canyon Junction and look for the cars.

    Ralph,
    I can email some pictures that I took of the pups for you to post if you like. I’ll send some today.

  6. avatar Michele Mickelson says:

    Does the “Unknown Pack” of 2006 have a new name? Are they still in the Park? Did they have any litters this year? Had the pleasure of watching that all unfold in spring 2006 but was unable to keep up this past year. Thanks, Michele

  7. No one seems to know anything about them.

    I think most folks believe they were one of several packs that inhabit the Absaroka Range of Montana to the north of the Park.

    If you look at Google Earth, it is surprising to many, including myself, how many miles of meadows and good elk habitat are north of Yellowstone in the Absaroka portion of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. Slough Creek goes on and on upstream from the Park.

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