The Canyon Pack dens at Mammoth Hot Springs
For all practical purposes the pack has denned at Park Headquarters-
The Canyon Pack, which includes some remnants of the old Hayden Pack, is denned just a quarter mile east of the Mammoth town site. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a chase on the Mammoth lawns.
Wolf pack moves to park’s headquarters. Den near Mammoth posted off-limits to protect pups. By Brett French. Billings Gazette.
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.
38 Responses to The Canyon Pack dens at Mammoth Hot Springs
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Does anyone know if that black Hayden pup that everyone loved is among them?
The now two-year-old “Black Hayden Pup” (now 638M) that so many enjoyed watching grow up at Otter Creek in the summer of 2007 is not a member of the Canyon pack. The last I heard, he was still with the remnant Hayden Valley pack. As far as I know, they live outside of Yellowstone National Park in the Hebgen Lake/West Yellowstone/Big Sky area. His mother, the now four-year-old former Hayden pack beta female (daughter of the white Hayden alpha 540F & Hayden alpha 541M) is the Canyon alpha female who is thought to have denned near Mammoth this year. Unless things have changed recently, I think the newspaper article has it wrong regarding the three other current members of the Canyon pack–they are not all three black males. Canyon alpha male 712M is black, but the other two males, 587M and an uncollared male, are gray. All three current Canyon males may have come from the Mollie’s pack.
I sure hope tourists are smart when they see these. If not it could lead to some bad press.
Pro a smart tourist. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Especially some I’ve seen in Yellowstone.
I like how one of the comments in the article said that the den location could mean the park is running out of elk, and another said wolves have killed 2/3 of the elk in the park.
I would expect nothing less from Marion, she has been making unfounded claims for years now
Well hopefully they can succeed on keeping the pack and the public safe while at the same time giving thew wolves a good scare so they aren’t as fearless around people.
I was doing a little checking on 638M and it was reported in Febuary he was spotted and looked to have a severe case of mange.
Timz,t here is such a thing but they are few and far between. maybe I should say people will be relatively intelligent.
Bean Bags and rubber bullets! Smith and his researchers are itching to teach the wolves a lesson? How about leaving them hell alone, including stopping the radio collaring of any of them. This pack has never shown any aggression towards humans and I think the Smith is trying to scare the public and make it difficult for anyone to get a good photo of a wolf.
This wolf project has become more about giving Smith and crew a lifetime research job and not about protecting the wolves here in the park.
I have been in the park for several days and every other wolf I see has a radio-collar. The flavor of the day seems to be the ugly oversized GPS collars. There seem to be more researchers with radio receivers tracking radio-collared animals in the park than there are visitors.
After 15 years of radio-tracking wolves, it time for Smith to wind this project down and let the wolves be wild and free, as they should be in Yellowstone. Any useful information has long-since been recorded.
Larry, I would disagree! Yes it is unsightly to see free animals with radio collars. Does not make for good pictures! But I think it provides a lot of very useful information on pack dynamics and Ungulate population cycles that need to be studied in an area with lesser human interferance!
With the Yellowstone Elk herd and Bison herds cut dramatically, it will be interesting to see what it will do to the Wolf/ungulate population.
I don’t think 15 years is enough to really see what will transpire with human interferance. With the, Buffalo culling, Elk, Grizzly, Black Bear management removals of problem bears ect it’s hard to tell what would naturally transpire.
So there is going to be a never ending study! The best thing would be to close the park for ten years to ALL tourists and let the Experts study it from that aspect ,but you know that would never happen.
Larry, while I do not agree with overt harassment of wildlife, the idea of shooting the wolves with paint balls, bean bags, etc. does make sense. They are trying to keep the wolves’ natural fear of humans intact. If those wolves become habituated that could cause some nasty press that would give anti-wolf folks plenty of ammo. As far as collaring, while I agree it is unsightly (I once saw a beautiful white wolf in Hayden Valley that I wish wasn’t collared) it is a necessary tool for wolf management. Soon enough there will be less wolves that will be wearing collars.
Craig, you are unfortunately correct about natural processes. We do not allow nature to truly take its course. To see it in the Lower 48 you need to explore vast wilderness areas like the Bob Marshall in Montana.
I agree with Larry. Enough of the collaring already, especially in Yellowstone where it can’t be all that hard to find the wolves if you have to for whatever reason.
Larry & Timz,
I am for sure with you on the colars…STOP PUTTING THEM ON! I know that they offer tracking information and science is benefiting, but when is enough enough for some researchers. How about sitting patiently in front of your spotting scope instead of driving down the road with your tracker hanging out!
I have been to Yellowstone for the past 6 years on severval different trips and seen a wolf EVERYDAY I was in the park. Hmmm…I don’t have a tracker with me, not to mention the 60+ bears I tend to catch everytime time I spend a week or so.
Not to sound smart, but I am not a researcher for the NPS and I still manage to get all those animals in my view! My degree only says business on it so I guess accordding to some I am not CREDIABLE! I truely appreciate what Smith and others like Rick are doing, but too many collars.
We know the Park and the animals good enough to make sound judgement on the locations, and if we go a day without seeing them that is OK they are WILD!!!!!!!!!
Shooting wolves with beanbags, paintballs or cracker shells is no big traumatic event for wolves.
Wolves are much more resilient to things than this.
I think if someone is bitten by a wolf, which would be very bad politically, Yellowstone is a place where it is more likely to happen than elsewhere. I think Smith and crew should have been more proactive than they have been.
I don’t have a tracker with me, not to mention the 60+ bears I tend to catch everytime time I spend a week or so.
You see that many bears in Yellowstone in a week? Where do you go so see all of them? I lived just north of there for 16 years and I have not seen 60 bears in my lifetime.
In August 2008 myself and another friend sat in a place in Hayden Valley we had seen as many as 14 different bears in sight at one time. This is the most I have ever been able to observe at one given moment. (3 sets of sows with 2 cubs each) To answer your question the most productive grizzly activity that I have seen is in Hayden. (Secret spot sorry) However the most productive year was a trip in August 2007 in Hayden. My “friend” (someone I have met in the park for several summers) has video footage of at least 19 different bears using a bison carcus in one evening between 4pm and dusk! I have a couple of bad photos with 5 griz in that area at once too all in the same frame.
Antelope Creek is my favorite place to glass, but it tends to be rather unique in bear traffic and feeding patterns. Usually you get a sow with cubs close to the road and the single bears are often toward the back side of Specimen Ridge. Somedays your 5+ and some you get 0!
May of 2008 I didn’t have my notes in front of me right now, but I think I had locations on approx. 25 different black bears. Corrals to Tower account for about 10-12 of those bears. I would have to check the notes to confirm. This has been my only trip in spring though. I am returning on Monday to the park and we will see what happens!
Also, had someone show me an aerial photo of 23 grizzy in one picture on a bison carcus. It is nothing to sit a Dorthy’s and see 5+ bears at a time thoughout the valley/slopes either.
Keep in mind that this includes sows with cubs in many cases that would count for 3 bears. You might ask if some of my spotting could be the same bear and some could be, and of those if I think they are the same I make a note of this.
I take from your statement “60 bears in a lifetime” that you must think I am making some of this up? Well I would hope not, but if so suit yourself beside 600+ bears reported in the park should be to hard to see 10%. Especailly considering a handful of those had colars. After all in May 08′ I have Sloughs (14), Druids(13), Agates(6), and what should be a Gibbon (1) all in one day! That would count for a good portion of the wolf population. PS no pups included in those notes. So, for me viewing in the park has been good in recient years, but we all know how that could change.
Wolves do not have a natural fear of man. I have observed and photographed wolves in Alaska, The Yukon, Alberta, Idaho, and in Yellowstone. Wolves only fear man where they are hunted. Otherwise they are quite neutral to humans. They just are not interested in us. They have their own agenda. Their agenda in Yellowstone is mostly about finding enough to eat and that means elk.
I am sitting in front of the visitor center in Mammoth Hotsprings and looking around at all of the introduced Kentucky Bluegrass being watered and mowed. This attracts the elk, which in turn attract the wolves. Punishing the wolves because they find lots of elk here doesn’t make sense. Why not bean bag the landscape crew? Or better yet bean bag the wolf researchers. Bean Bags break ribs and if used several times will kill animals.
If the only way we can have wolves in Yellowstone is to chase them with heliecopters to exhaustion, collar them, bean bag them, rubber bullet them and mistreat them, it is time to reconsider the whole re-introduction program. I have always supported bringing the wolves back, but if this is the way we are going to treat the Yellowstone Wolves I will have to change my mind.
I did my own elk survey the past few days. I counted 53 elk near the Mammoth campgound. They were all mature cows. Not a single calf survived to become a yearling. I counted 41 elk near the Yellowstone River. Only 1 calf survived to become a yearling.
I look for elk numbers to drop again this year and that means less wolves. I saw the Agate pack yesterday and they are down to 4 wolves. They have lost their pups already and the two gray ones with radio collars look like walking skeletons. They are being studied to death.
The wolves of Yellowstone are treated very well compared to those outside the Park which are killed, not just bean bagged, by Wildlife Services at an alarming rate.
You can see the lack of human harassment with the Yellowstone wolves because the packs they have built are much larger and multigenerational. If they are now in collapse, that is a very serious matter that can hardly be attributed to scientists studying them.
I think lack of prey and another outbreak of distemper are much more likely the answer.
The stark situation you just described does not fit the conclusion that they are being studied to death.
I am worried about their future, but something else is the cause of their decline.
Lack of prey? I’m not sure what you mean are you refering to Yellowstone? I would agree with the distemper issue definatly a problem. Do you feel if the ungulate numbers in Yellowstone are down? If so, what is causing this?
What do you think that is causing the wolves to decline? Disease, other wolves, prey, or just an over population in an area that is crowded with other wolves?
The winter elk count this year was up slightly, but I would not say significantly.
I was mostly responding to Larry’s bleak description.
I do have a hypothesis that wolves + elk usually does not depress elk numbers. However wolves + elk + grizzly bears often does. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough of the latter situtation with data to test the hypothesis (at least not now).
“Wolves do not have a natural fear of man. I have observed and photographed wolves in Alaska, The Yukon, Alberta, Idaho, and in Yellowstone. Wolves only fear man where they are hunted. Otherwise they are quite neutral to humans.”
This simply isn’t so–at least, it’s an oversimplification. Past the period in which they are socialized (which differs depending upon the species) canids are neophobic–they fear anything new. However, through repeated exposure to a stimulus they learn to be either attracted, repelled, or neutral to that stimulus. In addition to learning through conditioning, canids are also capable of learning from pack mates (i.e. social learning). Thus, where they are hunted or harrassed by humans, they develop a fear of humans and tend to flee at any sign. Where they are not hunted or harassed they are still generally fearful, but not nearly to the same degree.
Hoosier, I was not implying that you were making this up. I just meant to say that I have never seen that many in all the times I have been there. 🙂
No worries! I have been very lucky to meet up with the right people that were willing to share info. I can remember may first trip when I saw 4 bears and thought that I really had something. (which I did) However, now that I am aquainted my spotting has greatly improved over the years.
I know just from speaking with many other visitors that I am very fortunate. Again no worries and good day.
In general I would state the grizzy predation is bigger factor for the recuitment numbers. Have you heard of a study that is done on grizzly predation on elk calves? One would think that after a month or so old that those kill ratios would certainly drop. Most likly do to calf health, calf growth, and spring temperature as it would fuel the growth of new vegitation for the bears.
Gosh…I have been reading your comments and try to stay neutral but….I cant. I agree with Larry T. stop the beanbags and paintballs. Get rid of the collars, they probably itch and create a home for fleas and tics. In another article the headline reads brutal harrasment of Bison at West Yellowstone. Helecopters, etc. For sure, bad people. Now we shoot the wolves for minding their own business in YNP with beanbags and paintballs. Good people?? Shouldnt we call this brutal harrasment also? The Bison are being chased, the wolves are being shot. Is one method better than the other? Didnt we just outlaw/declare the use of water as torture?? Paintballs? I notice that in an earlier statement it implied that being shot with beanbags doesnt really hurt the wolves? They can handle it? Has anybody here been shot with a beanbag? It must hurt because I saw them used in crowd control and those bagged were carried off. Ouch!!. Being a photographer like Larry T and having lived and photographed wolves in Alaska and Canada since the late 50’s I think I can say with confidence, when left alone, the wolves know how to survive and live on their own. As Larry indicated, there are probasbly more radios in the park than?? Than there are elk? We worry about illness like distemper, mainge, etc. Maybe it would be smart to keep the publics (and the wolf peoples) pets at home and outside the park. Isnt animal poop a major source of spreading illness amongst animals? Or…maybe the pet people can pick up their dogs scat after their pets do their dump. But on the positive side, this wolf activity is a form of Stimulous isnt it and a subject of conversation. I know everything said cant be right, but on the other hand cant be all wrong either. Everybody has an opinion….God I love this web site….Oh by the way, Larry’s comment about the Kentucky Bluegrass in Mammoth, I agree its good grits for the Elk, but we need to get rid of it as it is foreign to this NP and should not be there since it is not native. Peace all.
There have been studies of bear predation, including grizzlies, on elk calves.
I’ve seen YNP grizzlies methodically work the sagebrush until they find a calf, and then “slap”
One of the best ways elk avoid having bears eat their calves is to “drop” them all about the same time (week or so). This makes for a surfeit of vulnerable elk calves.
In about 2 weeks, an elk calf can outrun a grizzly bear. Bear predation goes way down.
Wolves generally don’t bother with the small elk calves. Wolf predation of elk calves begins when they are large enough to make a worthwhile meal.
Moving back in time to the rut, it is important that the cow elk become pregnant as close together in time as possible. That way they drop them at about the same time.
When this doesn’t happen and elk calves appear over a month or more, the bears can take their time and eat a lot more elk calves in total.
Phil, the idea behind shooting the wolves is beanbags is aversive conditioning. It will make the wolves fear humans, thus keeping both parties safe. I do not like harassment of wildlife myself but if it will keep the wolves from being habituated and from being killed because they may get too aggressive with people, then it is worthwhile. If a wolf does injure someone (and any habituated animal has this capability) then it would create some serious bad press and ammo for anti-wolf people. This is being proactive and if successful can prove that non-lethal control methods can work. While the beanbags may hurt, think of some other pain the wolves endure such as fights with rival pack members and being kicked and gored by their prey. They live a tough life and are more than evolved to take it.
As far as the collars, there have been plenty of other animals that have worn them besides wolves that have suffered few ill effects. It is unsightly and may be irritating to them, but it does at least let people make the necessary studies on them. Give it time and we will see much less wolves wearing collars. I will agree that the pets should be kept out of the park. With that you are asking for trouble both with diseases and being killed by lots of other animals. I also agree that the Kentucky bluegrass should be removed and the native plants returned to keep it natural. The elk will still stay around.
Thank you for that post. It tells me I am not alone or half alone in the feeling that collars – or too many collars – is not so good. Shooting with bean bags..no thank you.
So..what do we have left?
Telling people that this bear cub is not a ‘teddy bear’ and the little puppy is nota ‘scooby’ – how can we protect the park animlas from the people?
Protect park animlas from the people. People in general have no clue. They come tot he park to see animlas and don’t think animals can hurt them until the kicks a boy in the head or mama bear smacks a child trying to touch a cub.
How can we protect animals from the people?
great..I can’t even type anymore:
They come to the park to see the animlas and don’t think that animals can hurt them until the elk kicks a boy in the head or mama bear smacks a child trying to touch a cub.
Other than just drilling into people’s heads that wildlife can be dangerous and giving fines for people getting too close, we are going to have to resort to aversive conditioning.
Perhaps a beanbag to the next vistor trying to get to close to the wildlife! Might make some think twice about snapping that perfect picture.
Again thanks for you response. Is there a techincal term used to descripe the mass calving that occurs? I have not seen a considerable number of calves of the year in the park ever, but that may just be timing and lack of a focus in looking for them. Just guessing I would think that calves ranges from last week of May to first of June?
Mass calving is simply called “synchronous calving.” That’s all I could find in the definitive “North American Elk: Ecology and Management.”
I know that females (human) often cycle together when they are frequently exposed to another female. In households, mothers and their daughters will often have menstruation at the same time. Women who work in close proximity often cycle together too.
There is a chemical reaction that occurs when hormones are smelled. It happens all the time.
I have been very concerned recently about the increasingly appearant changes of this occurance in animals. Over the last ten years I have begun to see more and more changes in the cycle of elk. I see more calves born outside of the normal window each year. I see deer still in velvet in November, elk dropping antlers in April and May, last year I saw several deer with new fawns in August.
I chalk it up to global warming. The climate changes may necessitate that animals change their habits. In ordert o adapt, maybe they will mate later as the cold seasons set in later? I have no idea, but I think it is worth studying.
But the moral of this story is, I view the animals from a safe distance.
The foot note should be, we can learn from the pack denning at Mammoth. (Didn’t they have simialr problems with the old Swan Lake pack?) How interaction occurs and how it is handled may effect how people perceive cohabitating with wolves. It could be an arguement that we can, or cannot, peacefully co-exist. These wolves are obviously close to people. The key will be keeping them at a happy distance, but still being able to show they didn’t eat anyone…and were close enough to have chosen to do just that.
People should keep their pets at home for two other reasons:
1. You make them a part of the food chain when you take them to YNP.
2. There is limited space for them, and it is cruel to keep them confined for a whole trip.
As for the bean bags and comparing wolf hazing to bison hazing….keep in mind that although the physical act is similar, the primary motivation differs.
Bison are hazed to keep them from grazing public lands that are occupied by cattle owned by ranchers. That is motivated by greed.
The wolves are being ‘hazed’ to teach them to have a healthy fear of humans in a place where animals can easily forget they are in danger-due to the protection of park regulations. Mammoth is only a stone’s throw and a quit trot to Montana’s regulation….I say teach them to survive by teaching them to stay clear of people, and guns.
Oh Vickif. Your hazing comments have some merit but….thru time it has been determined that wolves do not attack people unless they are sick or starving….Right? Have they killed anyone? Not that we know of…Right? Why do we think they will kill or injure somebody here in Yellowstone? Has somebody been physically attacked by a wolf in Yellowstone? They dont haze them in Denali, or Glacier. There are a heck of a lot more wolves in Denali. I have had them stop by in my camp. Just Curious. No threats from them or me. We co-existed. Well sort of, one stole my bowl. So why do we think they need to be tramatized and yes tortured to get their attention here in Yellowstone? I have been involved with a wolf rescue group in my state since 1995, and on the board of Dir for about 6 of those years. We have cared for upwards of 75 animals at a time. Most animals brought to us were pre owned or captured and abused in some fashion. I assure you that many of them would attack you and in some cases have tried and succeeded due to past abuses. Some how I dont see our using beanbags and paint ball guns as a way to gain control and trust from our wolves. Animals will be animals, bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, eagles, and so on. If people move in to their turf they will react as they normally would. We placed them back in with man and we expect them to play by our rules. The same as in New Mexico. Why are the wolves gone….Man!!. Now we try to reintroduce them where Man lives…..We move into the animals turf and expect them to play by our rules. And if they dont play by our rules, we make new rules….I still say leave the wolves alone. If we want to protect our people from wildlife in Yellowstone than close off the roads and restrict backcountry trail access. Should we need to be like Denali? Ride the bus thru the park. Let the people off at the restrooms. If you want to get off the bus to take pictures or enjoy the scenery then they stop to let you off 1 mile from bears and wolves and 1/2 mile from other animals. They fine you if you even come close to approacing wildlife. Extreme?? Still better than beanbags. Pain is not a good solution….As a friend told me wolves believe in the old addage….an eye for an eye. I say punish the people. If people get too close to wolves, bears, bison, etc, shoot the peole with a beanbag or paintball gun. Far fetched…..not really. Do you all think that if we shot captured POWs in Iraq or Afganistan to get info with beanbags and paintball guns the ACLU would let us get away with it? Of course not.
Perhaps a beanbag to the next vistor trying to get to close to the wildlife! Might make some think twice about snapping that perfect picture.
I like that idea Hoosier! 🙂 Maybe some paint that doesn’t come off for a while so other tourists can see who got shot for harassing wildlife.