Oxbow pack in Yellowstone has 10 pups

The relatively new Oxbow Pack, which split late in 2005 from the Leopolds, had a double litter of eleven pups! One pup has died.

Dr. Doug Smith told me today that there is a pup count from just one other pack– the “new Swan Lake Pack” has 5 pups (plus 5 and maybe 6 adults).

The new Druid den has no pup count, nor the Sloughs or Agates. Currently the Druid Pack holds at 10 adults (that includes the surviving yearlings)

The Cougar Creek Pack in the Park, NE of West Yellowstone was not confirmed to have had pups last year, but its alpha female denned this year. At 9 years old she (151F) is the second oldest wolf in the Park. No pup count yet.

Lots of people have seen the Haydens on the road and nearby. They keep denning in that bad spot. Hopefully they will not be pressured so by the mass of people that an incident happens. About 800 people have looked at the photos of the pack that recently went up (that’s just my link).

Mollies has 9 adult wolves. No pup count. It is thought the new alpha male is 586M. Folks may recall that a large male from that pack was recently hit and killed on the highway near LeHardy’s Rapids.

The Slough Creek Pack has been seen a lot in Slough Creek and the lower Lamar Valley. The alpha male (folks will recall he was until recently an Agate Pack wolf) killed an elk in the Lamar River, then another nearby. He spent a lot of time around them. He had to cross the road to get to his food, and people made it hard for him to cross the highway. As a result he spent a lot of time near the road, including lying in the middle of the highway for a while (that made a big commotion!). The rest of the Slough Pack (still all females, I believe) are wary of the road, and wouldn’t join him at his kill.

It is not known if the Hellroaring Pack is still in the Park (or exists). They lost all their radio collars.

The Gibbon Pack, which vanquished the last remnants of the Nez Perce Pack, is now almost a duplicate of the once mighty Nez Perce. Like the Nez Perce, they are denned in Nez Perce Creek. Like the Nez Perce, they are a large pack with 11 adults and an unknown number of pups. Their territory is about the same as was the Nez Perce.

No one seems to have seen the “unknown pack” that besieged the Sloughs last spring, causing them to lose all their pups.

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  1. DV Avatar

    Does no new pup count mean they had no pups, or they just didn’t see any pups?

    I was in Yellowstone when that kill was in the Lamar River. A serious cluster of people. We saw the alpha male – he looked very wary about coming down to the kill and was staring right at the group.

  2. Dave Avatar

    I was also in Yellowstone last week. There was a second kill at 2s1 up Slough creek where we saw one of the black females. I saw the same black female cross the road on Monday from Lamar headed toward Slough creek. Lots of people were there and she was definately uneasy.

  3. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    Last weekend I spent some time observing the Oxbow pack at their den site and saw the pups. There was one black pup that was smaller than the other 10 and the thought was it belonged to the beta female that had brought it to the den site having given birth to it elsewhere.

  4. Buffaloed Avatar

    DV, I am guessing that they have not been able to confirm whether or not the packs have had pups. It does not mean that they have not denned or that they don’t have pups it just means that they have not been to the site and confirmed anything one way or the other. That is standard practice.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    No new pup count means they haven’t counted any pups yet. There is a count only for “New Swan Lake” and Oxbow

  6. DV Avatar

    This may be sheer ignorance, and I apologize if it seems stupid. Do scientists have any theories as to why the packs – Sloughs and Druids in particular, congregate so close to the roads in the Lamar Valley. Is that just where the prey happens to be? Are they psuedo acclimatized to humans? It seems unnaturally easy to see wolves in Yellowstone. Seems like the smart thing to do – from the wolves perspective – would be to hang out as far from the road as possible. It makes me fearful for the wolves fate once hunting is allowed if they are that willing to be seen.

  7. Wendy Avatar

    Hey DV

    I don’t think it’s true to say that the Druids or the Sloughs congregate close to the roads in Lamar. Because the road runs through the valley and because there is prey on both sides, these wolves do have to cross the road on occasion to get where they need to go. I would say they are all somewhat acclimated or accustomed to the presence of humans and cars but in general, avoid both at great effort. Over the years only a handful of individual wolves have shown a “lack of fear” of the road. The most current example is the alpha male of the Sloughs who learned his behavior as a young Agate wolf. What I find interesting is that the pack he now leads seems NOT to be mimicking his behavior. They hang back and wait for an opportunity to approach and cross the road where the fewest humans are.

    If you asked wolf-watchers this past week whether or not it was “un-naturally easy” to see wolves this spring, most of the folk would say it was un-naturally hard. In six days of trying, I went wolf-less three of those days. No complaints, though – there were more than enough bears to make up for it. Each year is different and each season is different. I think one explanation for the relative lack of sightings this spring is that both the Druids and the Sloughs have denned in spots impossible to see from the road, so we only see them if they are hunting in daylight, or if they visit a carcass within sight of the road.

    I believe the main reasons wolves have been “easy” to see over the past 20 years is simply the natural topograpghy of Lamar Valley, which affords such great views both north and south of the road. And the fact that periodic telemetry helps identify which direction to scope first.

    Happy trails

  8. Wendy Avatar

    Oops, I meant the past 10 years!

  9. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    The favourable topography sure makes the Lamar (and Hayden Valley) one of the very few places in the northern hemisphere where one actually has a fair chance to see a wolf, either with the bare eye or with scope or binocular. Add to this the bonus that the Yellowstone are can be reached and travelled in easily. Compare this to the topography here in western/central Europe or even more eastern Europe, with dense forrests. You do not have the slightest chance to see a wolf unless by sheer and rare coincidence. Even dedicated wolf biologists only rarely and occasionally see a real wolf. Other reasons are maybe, that the packs here are much smaller, normally comprising only “the familiy” of two, the yearlings and the pups of the year. Furthermore, thus I cannot proof it, I got the impression over the years, that our wolves here act more nocturnal. Even in (or maybe because of) the more open habitat in Italy and Spain there´s seldom a wolf out before it´s completely dark.

  10. Eric Avatar

    Interesting comments! Has anyone read Richard Manning, “Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics, and Promise of the American Prairie”? I havn’t but it’s on my list.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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