Although I expect Kathie Lynch may soon have a detailed report, I got information about a few items today.

The Bechler Pack of SW Yellowstone (the only pack down there) was finally seen. It had eleven members and was several miles south of the Park near the Idaho/Wyoming border. While they will go back to the Park, this points out a serious problem with Wyoming wolf management, the Bechlers, a Yellowstone Park wolf pack could be shot during a Wyoming trophy hunt season when they leave the Park as many Park packs sometimes do.

There has been a pretty wild mating season, with a lot of cross pack mating. In a first, an alpha male (of the Leopold’s 534M) was seen mating with the beta female of the rival Agate Pack (471F). He had already mated with his “mate,” the Leopold alpha female.

302M has left the Druids, at least temporarily, and is probably doing his favorite thing, searching for love.

Genetic research by Dan Stahler, and others,* has shown that the Park wolves have gone to great lengths (although I doubt they are thinking of genetic diversity as they check each other out) to avoid inbreeding.

The Haydens might have found a new home range. It is the territory left abandoned as the new Swan Lake Pack disintegrated — from Mammoth, north to Norris Geyser Basin. Two of the five Hayden’s got radio collars — the new adult male of the pack, who will be 639M and the well known black pup, who is now 638M. Dan Stahler finds the black pup very ineresting in that his is likely the son of the pack’s former beta or subordinate female and a black interloper. If he came from the alpha pair, he should be gray or light gray like the other 2 surviving pups.

Recently a Druid pup, among other Druids was radio collared. While still somewhat under the effect of the drug, two gray wolves, unseen by the darters and collarers, came down, and one tried to attack the pup. The pup is apparently not hurt and is seen looking perfectly fit now among the rest of the Druids.

___________

* The genealogy and genetic viability of  reintroduced Yellowstone Gray Wolves.  Molecular Ecology (2007).  Bridgett M. Vonholdt, Daniel R . Stahler, Douglas W. Smith, Dent A. Earl, John P. Pollinger, and Robert K. Wayne

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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.

30 Responses to Some Yellowstone Park wolf news

  1. avatar April Clauson says:

    I am glad to hear the Druid pup is alright, a post said that the pup was killed by those wolves possibly. Glad that was an error!!! So happy for the good news on the Druids and all other packs! Thanks Ralph

  2. avatar timz says:

    I wish they hadn’t collared the black pup, for some reason he seems unique and would have been better off if they’d left him uncollared.

  3. avatar Dave says:

    Photographically speaking it is a shame that they have so many with collars. Just makes those rare close encounters even rearer to get one close that is un-collared. Oh well there is always still AK.

  4. avatar Buffaloed says:

    I watched 5 of the females from the Druid Pack chasing elk along with an unknown gray wolf who must be quite the stud last night. It was a nice night to be in the Park and the drive home was nice with the full lunar eclipse and the brilliant stars in the sky.

    This morning I watched as the DoL hauled another 50 or so buffalo away to slaughter. Yesterday they hauled away another 50 and caught 12 more. What a disgrace.

    CAPTURE OPERATIONS

    2/08 54
    2/10 42
    2/11 04
    2/12 44
    2/13 31
    2/18 100
    2/20 12
    TOTAL 287

    TRANSPORT TO SLAUGHTER

    2/11 37
    2/12 30
    2/13 16
    2/14 44
    2/15 17
    2/19 31
    2/20 ±50
    2/21 ±50

    TOTAL 275

    There are many more buffalo heading to lower elevations and it looks like there could be another 100 or so that are going into the capture zone.

  5. avatar Layton says:

    I’m just curious here — isn’t one of the most popular legends about wolves that only the alphas do the breeding??

    What’s next?? Surely it won’t be that someone reports a pack killed some critter that wasn’t old, sick or crippled —– will it??

    8^)

    Layton

  6. avatar SAP says:

    Layton – good point – here’s something about the whole alpha deal I posted elsewhere:

    I don’t like to use the alpha-beta-omega &c. labels because really not that many packs have been so closely studied that we can pretend that we have uncovered some ironclad ecological laws about the org charts of Canis lupus. See useful discussion by Jane M. Packard in Chapter 2 of Mech & Boitani’s 2003 compendium, Wolves: Behavior, Ecology & Conservation.

    See especially page 53, where Packard states:

    “The linear dominance hierarchy concept has been adopted and perpetuated by popular educational materials about wolves . . . However, in most wolf packs, family dynamics are more complex . . . Several researchers who have observed larger wolf packs over several years in a wider range of contexts (e.g., competition over food and mates) have rejected the hypothesis that all wolf packs fit the model of a linear dominance hierarchy.”

    That said, I still think that by the way they hunt, under most conditions it’s likely that wolves will kill the unfit, although sometimes we have to admit that all we can say is the prey animal was unlucky. Deep crusty snow? All bets are off.

    I see where some of the anti-wolfers post photos of killed bull elk and want to argue that dead bulls somehow contradicts the old-&-sick pattern. As if bull elk didn’t wear themselves out during the rut, or that big antlers is a sure sign of fitness.

  7. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    I seem to remember a paragraph in Barry Lopez’ Of Wolves and Men where he reports a comment from a Native elder in Alaska about wolves: I’ve never seen that before. (I’m quoting from memory). That an individual who has been observing wolves all his life can make a statement should make any of us wary of asserting such and such about wolves or any wild animal as a fact.

    The one thing lacking in the natural sciences is the kind of day to day, long-term, lifelong experiences with wildlife that foraging societies accumulated generation after generation. We don’t even come close now to the kinds of experiences the old time naturalists–the Murie brothers come to mind–had with wildlife. That kind of lifestyle isn’t civilized.

    Statistical analyses of data sets can only get us so far, but unfortunately, too many of us think that is all there is, and we miss so much and make very bad decisions because of it. .

  8. avatar SAP says:

    Feyerabend, Paul. 1999. Conquest of Abundance: A tale of abstraction versus the richness of being.

  9. avatar Jay says:

    SAP, to follow up on your point about bulls being somehow more fit or stronger, one only has to look at the difference in longevity between cows (which can live upwards of over 20 years) and bulls (10 is OLD!!!) to see that bull elk are a perfect example of the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. If you look at wolf predation on elk as a whole–calves, older bulls, and old cows–it’s really a well evolved system to conserve the breeding, reproducing segment of the population and skim off the cream, if you will.

  10. avatar JB says:

    On the alpha matings issue…

    The problem is that people don’t understand the language scientists use–so-called “alpha” wolves TEND to mate; wolves TEND to kill the sick, weak, and old. These statements are true more often than not, but they are not always true…they are generalizations.

    I remember the words of an old coyote hunter who once told me, “the coyote…he’ll make a liar out of you every time.” The same is true with wolves.

  11. avatar RavenWatcher says:

    Good to hear of the Haydens. We’ve been seeing a pack that seemed to be them on and off in Swan Lake Flats… 4 greys, one large black. No one could tell me anything about who they were. We were guessing they were the Haydens based on their actions, colors, and numbers.

    Anyways, I have a few questions. I just found this board, so I am sorry if there is any previous info on this. As far as the Haydens go. The subordinate female that suposedly mothered the black. She’s still around? And is she now alpha? Or no? The “alpha male” that was collared. Is he one of the remaining pups or is he another wolf from outside the pack? When they were attacked by the Gibbons, did two wolves or one die? Last I heard, one died, one was likely to die soon.

    Appreciate any info on this pack. And thanks alot.

  12. RavenWatcher

    About the subordinate that mothered the black pup, Dan Stahler said they couldn’t tell which one until genetic analysis is done, which he intends to do.

  13. avatar Wendy says:

    Some Hayden info for RavenWatcher

    From all the comments on this site and various others I think it is safe to say this: the alpha male and the “white” alpha female of the Hayden pack are both dead. Their deaths coincided with the sudden appearance of several members of the Mollie’s Pack in Hayden. Surviving Hayden pack members were seen being repeatedly chased by Mollies’ wolves for several days.

    At least one adult female of the Hayden pack survived, along with two gray pups and one black pup. These four are no longer in the Hayden area but have been seen on and off in areas north of Hayden Valley throughout the winter. The adult female can be loosely considered the
    “alpha” of the group being seen on and off in Mammoth and Swan Lake. The now-collared gray male is thought to be from some other pack or area. He can be loosely
    considered the “alpha” of this group. In this case, the term “alpha” means loosely “leader” rather than referring to breeding status, as that is largely unknown. If/when the DNA of the recently collared wolves is processed we may learn more.

    Hope that helps

  14. avatar RavenWatcher says:

    Thanks, Wendy, that does help.

  15. avatar william fold says:

    here,…look at what your precious wolves do!!!

  16. “William Fold,”

    Thanks for showing us that wolves eat deer and elk. Nobody knew that.

    As for them killing without eating, do you expect them to be chewing away on their kill while someone stands by their side and photographs them?

    If you are shocked to see a dead and eaten or partially-eaten elk, the Idaho outdoors is no place for you. Please stop embarrassing us in Idaho with your weak-kneed attitude. The Idaho outdoors is for red-blooded folks who are not afraid of natural events.

    It is also a place for people who know that a slightly eaten animal often died from some non-wolf cause and was fed on but slightly because the wolves were suspicious or temporarily scared away, such as by a photographer.

  17. avatar Maska says:

    Save our elk for what? Seems to me an elk is just as dead, whether it’s killed by wolves or shot by a hunter. I’m for equal opportunity hunting. Let the human hunters use their rifles and the wolves use their teeth and swift legs. May the best critters win! 🙂

  18. avatar Cindy says:

    I am an avid Wolf admirer and have a project to share with other wolf admirers. I own a small printing business and I am currently designing a Wolf Card to be distributed to as many people as possible during the month
    of March (free of charge of course). My intention is for folks to use this meditation card every day up until March 28 and thereafter, to help send an intention to the entire wolf clan (especially the newly conceived pups), that it’s time to get very serious about their safety if they intend to survive delisting. We need the spring pup population to be given new and sharper survival skills then their protected parents. They were not able to outwit their mass killing last time, and I believe if we form a united and collective meditation for this purpose, we can help guide Wolf to a safe future in our wild Wyoming region. This may sound awfully fluffy to some, but I have seen the power of meditation and prayer transform the lives of humans and animals every day. My intention is make a beautiful card
    that represents the truly wild and mystical nature of Brother Wolf. If anyone has the perfect photograph I could use (as an in-kind gift with credits) that would be great. And for those with false intentions, please don’t waste your time on me.

    I usually don’t let commercial ventures post comments. I decided to make an exception here. I hope it’s a good decision. Ralph Maughan

  19. avatar SAP says:

    The “save our elk” website is the one I was referring to earlier. The slideshow has a photo of a bull elk, and the caption reads “They don’t limit their kills to the calves and weak.”

    Must not know a whole lot about elk if they don’t know that many bulls are WEAK after the rut. Bears can kill bull elk in the fall. Some of those bulls go into winter in very bad shape.

    There’s so much human-inflicted wounding of elk that goes on that a lot of elk – cows, bulls, calves — go into the winter on three legs, or with a gangrenous arrows or bullets stuck in them.

    The Elk Saviors claim “Most people can’t go all the way through these slides.” They’re right – because it gets BORING.

    Dead ungulates are nothing new — roadkill, cougars, coyotes, starvation . . . in fact, going through ALL 48 of their slides, I don’t see any documentation — subcutaneous hemorrhaging, tracks, properly spaced canine punctures in the hide — to tell us what killed these critters.

    Some of the photos have a good spray of arterial blood near the carcass, so probably SOMETHING killed them, rather than they just dying. But what? For all we know, they got hit by a semi.

    And like Ralph said, even if wolves DID kill some or all of these critters — well, thanks for the news flash. 😉 Now I know that they’re not getting by on nuts and berries.

  20. avatar Buffaloed says:

    If you listen to the audio that goes along with their slideshow (which you have to make a special effort using the Mac OS) you will also notice that they claim that most of the cow elk killed by wolves were killed during birthing events. I didn’t know cow elk gave birth in the winter, I thought it was in May/June, in fact I’m sure it’s in May/June. These idiots don’t even seem to know anything about elk let alone the wolves they call “vicious killers”.

    Same bullshit, different day.

  21. avatar Jess says:

    It might be worth noting that the “old” Haydens normally spent a good part of the winter away from Hayden valley. Spring will be interesting as usual.

  22. avatar vicki says:

    Oh my goodness, get informed, get a clue…read a book…or just o to YNP and watch a wolf for crying out loud Mr. Fold.
    And if eating or killing any animal is so horrific guy, close the doors, close the window blinds, close your eyes. It is what some of us call “life”.
    And while you are hiding inside so you are so disturbed by natural events..look in the mirror and check your teeth… you have incisors. So I guess you must have evolved from some sort or devil meat eater too.
    Chew on it for a while.

  23. avatar Layton says:

    Just FWIW,

    This “saveourelk” bunch has recently started hanging around on one of the archery internet sites where I spend some time. In a word, they are NUTS!!

    They have been pretty soundly denounced even by the mostly “anti” wolf factions that hang out there (yes, that would include me). Smart money is saying that they are in bed with, or at least extremely influenced by Lynne Stone’s buddy up there in Stanley. ;^)

    Yes, the kind of propaganda they put out is a real crock, kind of like (but opposite from) what some of the folks on the “for” side espouse.

    I would hope that thinking people on EITHER side wouldn’t listen to them much.

    Layton

  24. avatar Surferdude says:

    Ralph: I guess we have now learned a downside of swithing to a blog, a lot of nonsense from every imaginable stance has to be sorted through to try to just get an update on the comings and goings of the wolves. Perhaps a choice point at top for “Updates” and “Opinions.”
    Surferdude

  25. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    Layton – are you confusing my buddies with Ron Gillett – Idaho Wolf Coalition? I didn’t think so.

  26. avatar Layton says:

    Cmon Lynne — Just making (what I thought was) a joke. It’s Sunday, don’t take me seriously.

    Layton

  27. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    I didn’t.

  28. avatar JEFF E says:

    Layton,
    After reading this bozo’s web site, and reading the comments on that Bowhunting site it is apparent that 1.) these people are even more uneducated than even Gillette if that is possible, and 2.) they some how think they are going to make money from this, in my opinion.
    On the lighter side can you get the post of the wolf salmon fishing that is on that Bowhunting site and post it here. I am sure the 1000’s of people from around the world that visit here daily would enjoy it

  29. avatar Layton says:

    Jeffy,

    Do you remember what forum it was on?? I think I saw it, but I believe the thread got deleted — that seems to happen when the discussion goes to wolves.

    Layton

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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