It is said all the time that Yellowstone Park is a source of wolves — wolves don’t migrate into the Park, only out of it. This has been demonstrated to be true . . . almost.
Last spring Dr. Doug Smith spotted a new wolf in the Slough Creek Pack. After a while, and I’m not sure when, they noticed that while he had a radio collar, it didn’t seem to work. Eventually they noticed he had blue ear tags (given to wolves collared in Idaho). Finally they discovered the collar did work and was close to the frequency of Idaho wolf B195M, who originated in the central Idaho White Cloud Mountains (Lynne’s Stone’s country). They made the call apparently, and decided he is that wolf from Idaho.
Folks might recall that last summer the Slough Creek Pack got a new alpha male, when the old alpha male was hit by a car in the Park. The aggressive new Slough alpha, wolf 590M (who came from the nearby Agate Creek pack) seems to have forced B195M out of the pack.
Dan Stahler told me today that B195M now seems to be “associating” with a Slough female (527F) who has left the pack.
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Several wolves from Wyoming (not from the Park, however)have dispersed to central Idaho; and one is known to have come from Idaho to Wyoming. He joined in the formation of the Greybull Pack. B195M, however, seems to be the very first wolf from anywhere outside the near vicinity of Yellowstone Park to enter and find a place with a pack.
There is concern that the wolf populations, especially the Yellowstone Park wolf population, and maybe others if there is a big state sanctioned wolf slaughter could lose its fine genetic diversity. Interstate migrations might mitigate this. Of course, the migrants have to breed and the pups survive and breed for this to happen.
A paper or two is currently underway to investigate if there has been identifiable genetic exchange between the 3 wolf population segments — central Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.