Three wolf packs in elk migration corridor probably set conditions for the Mollies/Hayden conflict

Earlier story: Mollies Pack kills Hayden alpha pair

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Dan Stahler of the Yellowstone Park wolf team told me today that Hayden, Mollies and Gibbon packs have all been in Hayden Valley the last weeks because it is a major elk migration corridor from summer range to the south to the northern range. The packs are well aware of this and show up every October.

He said about a week ago Bob Landis saw the Mollies chasing the Haydens. Mollies and Gibbon have also been howling back and forth a lot.

No one is known to have seen the actual attack.

The bleeding alpha female was spotted first. She retreated to the trees in a spot she knew was comfortable. Stahler spotted her body the next day from the air with ravens on it.

Wondering about the Hayden alpha male, he soon spotted him dead in Cascade Meadow. This is where the Haydens, at least probably the Haydens, had killed an elk. At the time a grizzly was on the carcass and now he has buried it. Also at the time Mollies Pack was only a mile away.

Reports are today Mollies is chasing the remaining Haydens and could finish them off.

Stahler did say, however, that if the Haydens survive the next while it is possible a Mollies wolf or two could come and join with the Haydens. He said there is pack aggressive behavior that often disappears when several weeks pass and the pack is more spread out. One or more wolves might then return and engage in quite different behaviors, such as join the pack.

Currently there are 8 Mollies being seen, although earlier this summer 9 adults were counted and 6 Mollies pups. Perhaps some dispersed or are simply not with the eight.

It is not hopeless for the Haydens if they are not killed today or the next several days.


  1. Michael Williams Avatar
    Michael Williams

    If the Mollies are chasing the Haydens today, I’m assuming that includes the 5 pups, and 2 remaining sub-adults, what are the odds that 7 young wolves will out-smart the Mollies?
    I watched that black pup for hours last summer. I felt he/she had the makings of an alpha. I hope his Mollie father saves him.

  2. Dave Collins Avatar
    Dave Collins

    Thanks for keeping an up to the minute report. It is very sad news. I sure will miss them. They were the first wolves I photographed up close. Thanks again for the report.

  3. kim kaiser Avatar

    i just got an update from a friend out there today, thursday,, the 5 haydens were still alive till at least 300pm,,,,howver, there were 8 molllies pack wolves who were on the trail of the haydens, and scnet marking areas where they had been seen. there was a female, and 4 pups left of the hayden, the other adut and one pup were not there,, the black pup is still there
    – – – – –
    Thank you, Kim.


  4. Jim Avatar

    Is this normal behavior for wolves, actually hunting down another wolf pack to kill them? Disturbingly human behavior.

  5. skyrim Avatar

    Yes Jim before we become to disturbed by this event we must consider what we do to each other on a daily basis. And we are calling it “humanity”

    I am reminded of a quote from R.D. Ingersoll;

    “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments… there are consequences”

  6. The Nature Travels Team Avatar

    Hi Ralph. This is fascinating – it’s very interesting to hear about wolves in Yellowstone. My experience of the animals is with Swedish wolves (much smaller than the North American population of course, but making a comeback having been thought extinct in Sweden until the 1980s). What’s fascinating is the polarisation of opinion surrounding these majestic predators – conservation efforts have to be handled with great diplomacy and the wolf in Sweden has become a very political issue.

    Anyone interesting in reading more about Swedish wolves may be like to read a blog article of mine at

    Another thing I am often asked about is the difference between a moose and an elk (in North America they are very different or course but in Europe they are synonyms) – anyone wishing to know more about this question may like to read

  7. Dave Collins Avatar
    Dave Collins

    Jim, I really dont think you you can compare humans and animals. Nature regulates what happens in its world. Its not all that disturbing. If you look back over the years of wolf study, wolves seem to keep there own populations in check with the amount of there food supply. There will probably be more wolf fatalities in the months to come because of the high pup count and the small territories that these wolves live in.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You are correct, but it should be added that many people will compare them anyway.

    That’s one reason why some people hate wolves and others love them . . . they look at their behavior and project both favorable and unacceptable (but often commonplace) human motivations and behavior on them.

  9. Jay Avatar

    I completely disagree, of course you can compare the two–to say you can’t implies we’re not animals, of which we certainly are. Even though we’ve developed more sophisticated social adaptations (I woudn’t say better), we still exhibit animal behaviors, such as violence towards one another. Just like the wolves of yellowstone, social scientists have shown that human violence is density dependent. We’re biologically dictated just as wolves are to accumulate the things necessary for survival (i.e., food, shelter), find mates and reproduce, etc. I also don’t think people dislike wolves because they’re “projecting human motivations and behavior on them”, as Ralph states. I’d suggest that people dislike wolves, in part, because they see common behaviors between the two species, and they don’t want to think that they could be so evolved and yet still behave like, well, wild dogs. Look at all the criticisms towards wolves (e.g., sport killing, cruelty, intraspecific violence, out-of-control reproduction, etc.) and you can go down the list and find that the human species is the posterchild for every one of them.

  10. TallTrent Avatar

    I think Dave Collins is absolutely right in saying that we should expect more wolf fatalities this winter. There are lots of big packs in the park and there is bound to be conflict over resources this winter.

    Ralph, thanks for keeping everyone up to date on this news. I am sure as the winter comes along there will be much more to say on here about wolf news in Yellowstone.

  11. Jimmy Jones Avatar
    Jimmy Jones

    Jay, It’s interesting to see how easy it is to asume that wolves and people can be compared. The fact is that most people only know what they were taught as kids about The Big Bad Wolf. With this seed being planted very early in life it’s not easy for some to look at them in any other way.
    If you look at this planet and all of it’s inhabitants, you can see a distinct difference between humans and all other life. We are the only ones that need clothes to protect ourselves from the elements.
    Animals are not evil calculating creatures. They all play an important part in the balance of nature. Wolves are pedatory, and a vital part of that balance. The only species here that is not in balance with nature is us.
    Wolves have never wiped out species as we have, and they don’t destroy there environment. They are self regulating and respond to there environment, and in doing so, they regulate that environment. That’s how the balance works.
    We on the other hand destroy our environment. If you were to imagine the world without humans, it would be in perfect balance. The reason people have to go to Yellowstone to see not only wolves, but all the other animals that used to roam the 48 states is because humans have destroyed them, mostly for sport and greed.
    Another human trait is arrogance. I think this trait is the one that makes us place ourselves above all others.
    As far as wild dogs, I think some humans behave worse.

  12. Wendy Avatar

    Whoa there, Jimmy,

    You are right that humans do all those things, but we evolved here, too, just like animals. We were once “in balance” with our world and some small groups of humans still are. I believe there is still hope for us. After all, the intelligence and skill we developed which leads so many of us to “destroy” also leads others of us to create art, music, drama and literature and even the latest tool of communication – the internet. We have the ability (and often use it) to feed, house and clothe those who cannot do it for themselves. We have figured out how to leave our planet and explore the universe (at least the nearby universe) and we have brought a few species back from the brink, after belatedly realizing their worth and importance.

    For all our ability to do evil and create damage, we have an equal capacity to do good and to make things better.
    I am rooting for the Hayden pups to survive this ordeal – and I am eager to learn if the Mollies will actually stay in
    Hayden or just make use of it for a while. I am sad to have lost the Hayden alpha’s, both of whom I was lucky enough to see up close as they ran right past my car window one snowy morning in May of 2005, before they were collared. I will never forget the fearlessness in their eyes. Each one nailed me with a direct look as they ran by. It gives me a thrill to this day to remember it.

  13. SmokeVanThorn Avatar

    So, jimmy, you don’t think that any species became extinct due to predatory pressure before the advent of man?

  14. Vicki Avatar

    Humans may have evolved, but we certainly effect our environment more than any other living creature. Though we have the ability to alter the negetaive effects we’ve created, perhaps part of our evolution is that we’ve left behind the instinct or will to do so. There are those of us who would choose to effect our environmental destruction. Sadly, we seem to be in the minority. We could also ponder that we, like wolves, will control our population. Certainly if we continue to create global warming, our population will decrease, due to floods, drought, fire, etc.
    Initially when reading this, I disagreed with Dave Collins saying that nature regulates it’s world, feeling that humans have a profound effect on the natural world. Now I agree with him. We, as a part of nature, will surely be regulated by our own behavior too. Perhaps the only way for nature to regulate the human species, is to allow us to eventually cease our own exsistance? Frightening.

  15. Jimmy Jones Avatar
    Jimmy Jones

    My statement was in responce to Jay making a comparison of the negative aspects of wolves and humans behavior in there environment. It is true that we once were in balance with nature, but I think as a whole we are evolving away from that. It is also true that we have a tremendous capacity to do good, but judjing from our recent 150 year track record, ( as it pertains to our environment ), we are not headed in the right direction. I think we destroy more than we create. You brought up the internet as an example, and it’s a good one. It shows our capacity for ingenuity, unfortunately it also shows our capacity for immorality, most hits on the web are for porn.
    My point here is not to condem the whole of mankind, I do have hope for us, but to condem a species of animal because it is a preditor is ignorant.


    Of course species have become extinct before our impact on nature. But our impact has become devistating in an extremely short period of time. The wilderness has been whittled down to our national parks. Even the great vastness of africa has been impacted by our inability to see our destructive process. Remember this was all about comparing wolf behavior to humans. I think just think we have more room for improvment.

  16. Jimmy Jones Avatar
    Jimmy Jones


    I agree that if we continue on this coarse we will pay the ultimate price. Unfortunatly we will have destroyed most things in our path. This does not have to happen. We have the ability to change things now, but it is human nature to wait till something happens before we decide to prepare for it.

  17. Vicki Avatar

    Jimmy Jones,
    That is a sad truth. Humans are more reactive than proactive. Some of us would choose to do otherwise (Ralph would be an excellent example). However, without those preditory capitalistic instincts, we face the challenges of monetary backing. In the food chain of humans, money eats all!


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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