Haydens leave Yellowstone . . . more Park wolf news.

Because people know their story and have seen them so often, the fate of the Hayden wolf pack is of general interest to those who follow the Yellowstone Park wolves. It looks like their future, however, will not be in the Park, perhaps due to too much competition from other wolves. They were last located near Virginia City, Montana — miles to the northwest of the Park.

All of the Park packs are believed to have denned, although the two most remote packs, the Delta Pack and the Bechler Pack have not been located. At the end of 2007, to the surprise of everyone, the Delta Pack turned out to be the largest in the Park. It could be that they are to the south of the Park in the Teton Wilderness where low elevation air flights are not legal.

So far visual sightings of pups have been made of two packs — Oxbow and Slough Creek.

Two Druid wolves that had lost most of the fear of people where shot with rubber bullets this week. They had passed within a couple feet of people and were lingering around the road at the base of Druid Peak. They were not hurt, but now cross the road with dispatch.

It’s my view that cracker shells and rubber bullets are the best way to educate wolves, although the later are a good deal more difficult to use (the ranger was a good shot).

This is the second time over the years that Druid wolves have needed this kind of education. The cracker-shelling back about four? years ago permanently stopped those wolves from lingering along the road.






  1. Nathan Hobbs Avatar

    With the increased media attention on coyotes this year from the incidents in california its going to be important to not take any chances within yellowstone with our wolves and coyotes no matter how small a chance it may be…

    last thing the recovery efforts here need is a ‘nip’ 2 a child getting too close from a wolf that does not fear humans.

    I am betting that the wolf they used rubber bullets on was one of the Black druids, he walked right up to us and looked at us from about 12-15 feet away one evening just stood there very confidently did not even react to us moving around..made for great photos, but I can understand how this could become a problem!

  2. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    I pray that the Haydens do not get shot while out of the park. My greatest fear that YS wolves that leave the park will be shot by hunters. all wolf deaths are sad, but to loose wolves that hundreds of people have watched, loved and learned from will really be a sad blow to those that have followed the Hayden’s story/life for so long. And folks in the park should be more pro active too, if that black yearling was so close to the photographers they should have scared it away, you have long lenses use them. A simple “get away” or a light snowball thrown will do the job. A ranger will not always be there, if you love them, shoo them away if they are too close!!!

    I’d bet Wildlife Services is the more likely. Most of them really enjoy that part of their work. Fortunately, there are few golden exceptions. A few still even take proactive measures, but for most the rule is “shoot two and call me in the morning.”

    It will be important to follow the Haydens and their fate. They might do OK, if they don’t and are shot for no good reason, it could be like wolf 253, and those responsible will end up sorry.


  3. SAP Avatar

    Where they are now is mostly livestock free until late June. Turner has a bison ranch very close by that last location. There are a few remote residences up there on the Ruby, about 30 miles off the pavement. So, there are some potential trouble spots they could run into, especially if they’re comfortable around people and come right into someone’s ranch yard or horse corrals.

    April is dead on: let wolves get too comfortable around people in YNP, and we’re probably dooming them when the get out into the broader world.

  4. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    It will be important to follow the Haydens and their fate. They might do OK, if they don’t and are shot for no good reason, it could be like wolf 253, and those responsible will end up sorry.


    Maybe I missed a post or new, what was done to the person that shot and killed Limpy? I do not believe any action was brought against him, or the person that ran a wolf down with the snowmobile?. Did some folks (pro wolf) finally give him what for? Just wondering. And remember all, shoo them wolves away (sweetly) if they get to close, forget the picture or the “moment” save that wolf’s life and tell him or her humans are not good for them! (at least let them believe that) even though we here love them!!

  5. Brian Ertz Avatar


    the incident with the snowmobile was not pursued by the prosecutor as the recently passed Idaho state law makes it next-to-impossible to prosecute the killing of a wolf for any reason at all.

  6. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Reality check on wolf killing. It’s dumb beyond belief, and wicked fun for some cretins, but in the end it’s the old numbers game–individual wolves don’t matter, it’s all about the overall population numbers. People here are worried about “Limpy” and individual wolves. I applaud that, but state and federal agencies could not care less about individual wolves. It’s all about how many wolves you can harvest/kill without causing the population to drop too low and trigger re-listing.

    All complaints about Limpy’s death, or a pack being broken up, or a wolf family’s dismay at the loss of a mother/father/sister/brother fall on deaf ears. How many packs do we have and what’s the overall population? That’s all that matters to the Feds and states. Might not be right, but that’s the reality of the situation.

  7. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    The sad thing is that two of the Haydens now sport radio collars, courtesy of Yellowstone Park Biologists. Ranchers are often given radio receivers and the wolves’ radio collar frequencies. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what will happen.
    The Hayden Pack will be tracked and killed using the radio collars on the wolves as a beacon.

  8. Heather Avatar

    Larry: thus more of a true injury to those that want to watch wolves. I hope judge Molloy is listening…

  9. timz Avatar

    Since they have left the park they should be tracked down and those collars removed.

  10. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    They should have never been radio collared in the first place. They may have left the park because of the constant harrassment by the park biologists with their radio collar tracking helicopters and little yellow airplane. Yellowstone wolves run as soon as they see or hear the helicopter. This is another instance of studying animals to death.
    The IDFG is trying to put a radio collar on at least one member of each pack in Idaho so they can be easily located when the planned wolf hunts start this fall. Hunters will be encouraged not to shoot wolves with collars. “Shoot the collared one last!” It makes the rest of the pack easier to find and kill if one of them has a collar.

  11. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    I understand why you don’t want the collars on the wolves, but understand that without the information gained by studying them, we cannot as effectively dispute the ridiculous claims that are made about them.
    The collars are a necessary evil. They allow people to track & study the animals more efficiently, & the more we know about wolves the better we can justify the reintroduction.
    The only reason why wolves run when they hear the helicopters is because they know that they will be popped with a tranquilizer rifle. It only happens during collaring which is January-February.
    For the rest of the year the aircraft that track them have little or no effect on them at all.
    I know it seems like the collars are an undue hardship, but as someone who tracked with the wolf project, I can tell you that the information taken by studying the wolves allows us to dispute the ridiculous hearsay that abounds the local area. Also it allows us to educate people which I believe is the only way to safeguard wolves.

  12. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    BTW, loved your photos Larry.

  13. WM Avatar

    If their was no collered Hayden wolf, then we would never know the fate of the Haydens. We would not know if they left the park or if they returned. We would not know where they are. The saga of the Haydens would already be over as far as we would ever know.

    The idea that the Haydens left the park because of the collars or biologists is ridiculous. The Haydens left because of pressure from neighboring wolf packs- Gibbon Meadows and especially Mollies, who killed both of the Hayden alphas and are taking over the Haydens territory. This is what happens in a real wild ecosystem- which we would know very little about if not for collars.

    I have watched that little yellow plane fly over the Haydens many times and they did not run. If the flights and collars caused wolves to leave the park, there would be no wolves in the park because collaring and the study of wolves has been going on since reintroduction- thirteen years.

    This was kind of the whole intent of wolf reintroduction in the first place- they were reintroduced as an “experimental population” to be studied- remember?

    Almost everything we know about wolves, virtually everything we have learned in the last ten years- pack size, territory, what they eat, how often they make a kill, where they den, etc, etc, etc, comes from collars. This is the real information needed to combat the myths and hysteria about wolves prevalent today. This is the real information needed to ensure the long term survival of wolves within the GYE. Not of particular individuals, but of the population as a whole. And not just wolves, but the same is true for grizzly bears and elk and just about any other animal species you’d care to mention that we’d like to see protected.

  14. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    Habituation to humans is a much bigger factor in wolf and coyote survival. Everyone who encounters perdators in the field needs to play a personal role in “compassionately harrassing” those animals so your encounter does not just create another reinforcement that humans are harmless. Unfortunately it is usually the very folks who love these animals the most who exacerbate the problem by spending lots of time near them and being as non-threatening as possible. Can’t have it both ways…

  15. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    “Virtually everything we have learned in the last ten years . . . has come from collars.” I don’t think the collaring was necessary at all. Plenty of data on pack size, what wolves kill, etc. from other studies in other locations decades ago. Interesting details on wolves in Yellowstone/northern rockies, but nothing new or dramatic on wolves or the management of conflicts between wolves and people. The Yellowstone research and radio collars and wolves was Redundant. Expensive, Unnecessary.

  16. Nathan Hobbs Avatar

    Larry if what you say about ranchers being given transponder frequency’s to track wolves is true it makes me furious.

    As someone who photographs wildlife for enjoyment I am just as entitled to the information as a rancher who would use the information to destroy the animal. Do I have the ability to have a radio? -Did not think so.

    The information should be kept within the biological study community, and never shared with interest groups with motives… period and end of story.

    And while they are at it, they should design a smaller collar system, with the wonders of technology it baffles me that we still have to put a 15 pound brick around there neck.

  17. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native

    Nathan, the claim of ranchers or hunters being given the frequecy of a wolf’s collar is just that a claim. I have not seen any evidence to prove those claims, and I have asked some close friends in both the Wyo G&F and the USFWS and they all say those claims are rediculous. If there is evidence though, I would like to see it because that type of action should not be allowed.

    For what its worth under Wyoming’s management plan they will be using GPS style collars rather than VHF.

  18. SAP Avatar

    Agencies HAVE given ranchers receivers and SOME frequencies in the past, but only after confirmed depredation and issuance of a shoot-on-sight permit. The agencies don’t give them many frequencies, only collars known to be in the area and suspected to in on the depredations.

    If you’ve ever used a telemetry receiver, then you know that you pretty much have to have the actual frequencies, you can’t just “scan” for them. So it’s not like a person could go out and use the receiver to track down and kill wolves all over the place.

    Even with telemetry, it’s not that easy to locate wolves and get within rifle range of them on the ground. You’d be better off trying to locate them by howling and observation rather than telemetry in most cases. Collars really facilitate “death from above” by Wildlife Services, not vengeful killing by ranchers.

    Wyo Native -the GPS collars as far as I know also have VHF transmitters, too. And Nathan, they don’t really weigh very much — probably the bulk of the weight is in the big leather strap itself, instead of the transmitter and antennae. I wouldn’t want one on my neck, but they don’t weigh much more than a pound, not 15#.

  19. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native

    SAP, thanks for the info. I would still like to know how often ranchers have been given recievers and the frequency information because, there isn’t one rancher in my area that has recieved any of this type of assistance for depredating wolves.

    I do not know for sure whether or not the GPS collars the Wyo G&F are using for wolves have VHF transmitters in them or not. I know the GPS style recievers that are used on mountian lion, lynx and elk in my area are not fitted with VHF transmitters, so I am just assuming the same for the wolves.

    I have been helping the the Wyo G&F conduct Lynx and Mountain Lion winter time surveys for about the last ten years during the winter. We use snowmachines along with the tracking devices and it is almost impossible to even get a glimpse of the critters, even though we will know the exact location of the location of the animal before we start. It sometimes takes multiple days just to even get close enough to throw the snowshoes on and sneak within visual distance just to complete the survey on one animal.

  20. SAP Avatar

    Wyo – thanks for insights. Your experiences with the cats is similar to my telemetry experiences. If it’s hard to even see them, it’s going to be very very hard to shoot them.

    A few years ago here in Montana, we actually had a state legislator who tried to mandate that FWP put collars on every pack, and then supply a telemetry receiver to every rancher who wanted one! Thankfully, it went nowhere. The worst part about that would have been the extreme cost of buying that many receivers. Some people have a real “cut of our noses to spite our faces” mentality when it comes to wolves.

  21. Gerry Miner Avatar
    Gerry Miner

    “I would still like to know how often ranchers have been given recievers and the frequency information because, there isn’t one rancher in my area that has recieved any of this type of assistance for depredating wolves.”
    Wyo Native–where do you live? I know of a few ranchers who have receivers to listen for collared wolves, and if they hear them, can go out and check their cattle.

  22. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    I think the information that has been gleaned from the YNP Wolf Project Winter Studies has been worth the cost. We know more about wolf-wolf interactions, wolf-prey interactions, & the overall effect of wolves on prey populations in regard to which herd members are taken.
    Did we already know some of this information? Yes. However, at the same time the fact that this research backs up previous data & gives us better insights on it’s meaning gives credence to the wolf reintroduction.
    Bottom line is that for me, the money is not wasted on this research.

  23. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native

    “Wyo Native–where do you live? I know of a few ranchers who have receivers to listen for collared wolves, and if they hear them, can go out and check their cattle.”

    I live in Mountain View/Kemmerer while I am at work, but on many of my days off I am in Thayne. I know quite a few ranchers (including my family) both in Sublette and Lincoln counties. Some have had issues with depredation some have not but no one has recievers.

    I also am friends with G&F biologist both in Kemmerer and Cokeville and a biologist for the USFWS that oversees Cokeville Medows, and they all do not know of anyone at least locally that have been issued recievers. But it sounds like it has happened, but maybe not in my area

    The ranchers that you know of that have recieved the collars did they recieve these under USFWS control or were they only issued these in the last month?

  24. Gerry Miner Avatar
    Gerry Miner

    “The ranchers that you know of that have recieved the collars did they recieve these under USFWS control or were they only issued these in the last month?”
    They had receivers under USFWS control. Obviously it is a touchy subject and they have to prove they are trustworthy to end up with a receiver and wolf frequencies. Have these ranchers you know asked for receivers? Or are there even radio collared wolves in that area? That would obviously make a difference. The ones I know of have had chronic depredations and wildlife services or USFWS has trapped there–then the receivers were given to the ranchers as assistance only, not as a means to track the wolves and shoot them.

  25. sal Avatar

    Yesterday I heard, through a grapevine of sorts, that the Hayden survivors have been spotted near Hebgen Lake which is sort of back-tracking from the Virginia City area. Looks like they are migrating back toward the park. If they follow up the Madison, though, they will enter into Cougar Cr. territory.

    Hope they find a place.


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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