The Hayden pups, their first big (5) litter

Post 1326

Photographer Dan Stebbins was gracious and emailed me photos of this year’s Hayden Pack pups. In the past, the pack has only had one or two pups a year. This year there were 6 (now 5).










  1. Denise Johnson Avatar
    Denise Johnson

    HUMM…appears as though the Haydens had an interloper this breeding season.
    Love the photos thanks for sharing!

  2. paintingartist Avatar

    I love the pics and the information. I look forward to the day when I get to experience wolves firsthand myself.

  3. Dan Stebbins Avatar
    Dan Stebbins

    I wasn’t sure if anyone noticed, but if you were to check out the upper left hand corner of the third photo down, you can just make out one of the adults keeping an eye on the pups.
    Enjoy the photos!

  4. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Dan—Thanks for sharing!! Since I am not there to see them, your photos are very much appreciated!!

  5. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    Great photos. May I ask about your equipment, lens,etc. I use a Nikon D50 and a 100-400MM lens but can never get shots like that, you seem either close or have a big zoom.

  6. heavenabove Avatar

    Excellent photos. Monday I got to see a light adult ( I would say all white) and the dark pup. I didn’t see any of the lighter pups but still a great sight.

  7. Dan Stebbins Avatar
    Dan Stebbins

    Tim Z,
    I shoot a Nikon D80 with a Sigma 170-500mm lens. The Sigma is very affordable considering the majority of wildlife photographers use some sort of fixed 500 or 600mm Image stabilizing lens with a 2X or 1.7X attached. Those lenses are generally $5K or higher. Unfortunately my wife isn’t going for the 2nd mortgage on our house deal so I can buy one of those. Anyway the Sigma 170-500mm runs just under $1000, and it’s obviously slower than the really high end lenses, but I find that it’s pretty sharp. If you’re curious about the clarity of the Sigma, a great deal of my photos on my website ( were shot with that lens. I feel like I get a lot out of that lens, so I’d definitely recommend it.
    As for my distance from the wolves, the pups were about 150 yards across the Yellowstone River from where I was set up, so I did crop my photos a little.

  8. skyrim Avatar

    I have grave concerns for the Hayden animals after what I witnessed in May. The adults were pursued from every imaginable angle and with these inexperienced pups beginning soon to travel with the pack that possibility effectively doubles.
    I hope that I am wrong but I see a member of this pack hit by an automobile this season. Once these wolves cross the bridge and find their way into the valley on the other side of the highway I fear the worst.

    Thanks for sharing your work Dan. It is greatly appreciated

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think the pack needs to be harassed (cracker shelled out of the area), but I think internal Park politics is preventing this unpopular, but sensible action.

    It’s one thing for a wolf to get hit by a vehicle. It’s a much bigger thing if a wolf bites some jerk. The anti-wolf people will make it sound like it was worse than a major terrorist attack.

  10. TIm Z. Avatar
    TIm Z.

    Dan, Thanks for the lens info, I’ll let the dust settle from
    my purchase of th D50 and then start working on a better zoom.

  11. Dan Stebbins Avatar
    Dan Stebbins

    The Hayden Pack has definitely been a major concern for the last three summers. They are on the road generally for a good portion of the winter, and easily the most visible pack in summer. Their den site is at least insulated by the Yellowstone River for early season, but of course the adults hunt both sides of the river and have to cross to feed the pups. Luckily there has not been one hit by a car, but at the rate they’re going it’s probably only a matter of time.
    In my time working in the park, I have seen the adults run Chittenden bridge, and even had the two alphas swim the Yellowstone and cross the road within about 20 feet of my truck. So they are road savvy, but the way people tend to drive down there I think your fears are well founded.
    I and several other park employees over the last few years have contacted Doug Smith (park wolf biologist), and even with his pull it’s been tough to get the closures that we have gotten in that area. A friend of mine works in Canyon area, and without his influence he feels that a lot of the closure signs would not have been put up. This unfortunately is probably due to internal Park politics like Ralph says. You’d be surprised how much “territorial pissing” goes on with the local supervisors. Especially within the ranger division, because the law enforcement branch generally has the ultimate say about what areas get closed and what signs go where.
    I do know that the wolf project is monitoring the situation closely and have a plan in place for adversive conditioning if they feel the situation calls for it.

    The D50 also has a 1.5X built into it, so your 400mm will instantly become 600mm. So that should help quite a bit too. Good luck!

  12. Linda Hoydic Avatar
    Linda Hoydic

    Thanks so much for sharing those pictures. They are wonderful shots. I should be so lucky to get that type of shot. I’m never in the right place at the right time or the wolves are miles away and only visible with a scope. We were in the park from June 29th thru July 4th. This was the first time in the last 7 years that we had not seen any wolves. I’m glad to know that the pack is thriving this year (so far)! I’m an hopeful that they learn to stay back from the road, but I’m not sure that will happen. I agree with Ralph that its the jerks that will cause the biggest problem with this pack and any others that we humans may come across. Thanks again!

  13. Mike Wilson Avatar
    Mike Wilson

    Thank you for sharing the photos.
    Could you also describe your tripod & head set-up?
    It is unique and amazing to be able to have this glimpse into a wolf den area with such detail. My understanding is they are likely to move the pups to a rendevou site shortly.

  14. Cher Avatar

    Thanks for sharing these photos! We just got home from our trip yesterday and my photos of this group of pups turned out but were a little grainy after cropping so much. It’s neat to see them in detail and still! And in the quiet…there must have been 200 people standing on the riverbank when we were there on the 15th. And the traffic…WHY are people even there in the park if they can’t SLOW down?? I was appalled at the people who passed us on every stretch of road, in such a hurry! There were a few times we had to slow down for a critter in the road…I am suprised that there are not more animal deaths! I hope these wolves all make it!

  15. Dan Stebbins Avatar
    Dan Stebbins


    My tripod is a Manfrotto 3021BN, and the head is a Manfrotto 484RC2. Hope that helps!


  16. Mike Wilson Avatar
    Mike Wilson

    Thank you.
    Have a great summer.

  17. Randy Sibert Avatar
    Randy Sibert

    Dan…we left the park yesterday after spending six days off and on watching the adults and pups from the river bank. We could not believe the number of people there. Your pictures are great and wish I had the equipment you do. Thanks for sharing these. What a wonderful experience it was watching the pack. It was the highlight of our trip.


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Ralph Maughan