Are the Sloughs gone? Plus five new wolf groups-
As wolf mortality has increased there has been a general redistribution of wolves in the Northern Range. All the packs are affected, even the Druids.
The Slough Creek Pack may no longer be intact. Two more dead members of the pack have been found and the only male in the pack, who wears the only functioning radio collar has been seen traveling alone.
As Kathie Lynch reported in her last wolf update, five members of the Druids (all males) left that pack. Since then they have found 5 females of other packs (perhaps all Agate). Leaders for the time being seem to be the famous old lover boy, Druid 302M and either a 2 year old Agate female or another Agate female nicknamed “halftail” because she lost half of her tail when run over by a van last year. This new group is being called the 302/642 group (named after the wolves with radio collars). They are one of 3 groups of wolves that are part of this year’s winter study.
The Agate Pack has no more functioning radio collars, so their status is not known.
Other new groups are 470s group [a.k.a., Mt. Everts Pack] after a collared female who was a Leopold and later and Owbow Pack wolf (both packs now disintegrated). 471s group of mangy wolves, currently on the west side of the Blacktail Plateau. This group is not expected to survive. 471F is a former Agate.
Then there is 527F’s group of 3, sometimes 4 (3 blacks and 1 gray). 527 is a well known former Slough Creek Pack wolf.
Finally there is 469Fs group. An older wolf, she too is a former Agate. This group is the second group selected for winter study, and the third group is the Druid Pack.
In summary then, new are
The Druids recently left the Park and were in Crandall Creek to the east for a while, but on Thanksgiving they were seen back on Jasper Bench.
The one really big pack left is the seldom seen Gibbon Pack of central Yellowstone. On his last flight, Dan Stahler visually counted 22 wolves, 15 blacks and 7 grays!
I finally got information on the SW corner Bechler Pack. They have just one radio collar. It is worn by 192M, the big, white, 10-11 year old alpha male who dispersed from the old Rose Creek Pack on the northern range to form the only pack in the Cascade Corner (SW corner of Yellowstone). It appears that the pack has 6-7 members including a couple pups.
Mollies Pack seems to still have a couple surviving pups, but they have at least a light case of mange.
The Canyon Pack of 4, including former Hayden 587F and probably 3 Mollies has lost its pups.
The Hayden Pack, which was driven out of the Canyon area about a year ago now, hangs onto the edge of Yellowstone and the Gallatin National Forest near Hebgen Lake and US 191. Doug Smith said he thought they were moving a bit north and might eventually occupy the niche once held by the old Chief Joseph Pack.
A final point is that year’s end wolf population in Yellowstone will show a huge decline.