Doug Breakwell posted a comment that was interesting, but also to a thread I’d rather keep clear, so I answer his questions below. Ralph Maughan
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Doug Breakwell wrote:
April 11, 2009 at 4:45 AM
This is a great site to keep updated on whats happening to wolves
especially if you do not live in the U.S. Today I have some questions that I hope your readers can help with.
1)what happened to wolf R29m? I know he’s deceased but how did he meet his end? The last information I can find on him states that he became the alpha male of the Gros Venture pack.
2) Who was and currently is the biggest wolf in Yellowstone and how big were/are they?
3) As the reports state that they Yellowstone wolves are getting bigger , what is the possibility of an extreme sized wolf similar to the 70 mile river wolf of 175lbs or the Poltavski wolf of 189lbs?
4) The wolf report of 1997 has a 52.3kg pup recorded in it, anyone know who this pup is and what happened to him?
Here are some answers:
1. The famous escape artists wolf R29M was displaced or left the the Gros Ventre Pack, but was (maybe) last seen in the general area in 2002. On my old web site I have tables showing what happened to all to the reintroduced wolves. It also gives their weight at capture in Canada. The links are below.
- Fate of the 1995 Yellowstone wolves (table). Final revision Jan. 9, 2003. All the 1995 wolves are now dead.
- Fate of the 1996 Yellowstone wolves (table). Final revision March 4, 2004. All of the 1996 wolves are now dead.
- Fate of the 1995 Idaho wolves (table). Last Revised Dec. 2005. Some of these wolves were still alive when I last updated the page
- Fate of the 1996 Idaho wolves (table). Last Revised Dec. 2005.
2. I’m not sure which is the biggest wolf in Yellowstone Park right now because I haven’t acquired their 2009 capture data, but the biggest one caught in the past was R6M, who weighed 141 pounds. He was killed by an elk in 1998.
3. Yellowstone wolves are not getting bigger. They seem to be getting smaller, probably because they not as well fed as the early wolves. The possibility of the 175 or 189 pound wolf is very low, although not impossible. After all, there are humans that are 8 feet tall. Extremely large individuals are usually not very healthy. Their large size alone means they will probably soon become afflicted with arthritis.
4. I can’t find my 1997 wolf capture report. I can’t answer the question unless you have the pup’s collar number.
Update From Ken Cole 4/11/09: Here is a graph showing the weights of all wolves from Yellowstone that I have information for as well as the original Idaho re-introduced wolves. I’ve added a trendline to the graph which shows a slight decrease in weight over time. However, when only wolves described as adults are included there appears to be a slight increase in weight as shown in the lower graph.One of the primary differences between the two trends could be the time of year when the wolves were captured. The date of capture varies from November to April so, with regard to sub-adult weights and differences in hunting success over the course of a year, these values are probably not statistically significant. Keep in mind that the weight of a wolf can also depend on how recently the wolf has eaten. One of the largest wolves weighed had just eaten from a fresh kill so could have had 20 lbs of meat in his stomach. Also, some of the more objective measurements such as skeletal measurements as compared to weights are not available to me. I don’t even know if those measurements are taken but I assume that they are. These measurements would be a greater indication of condition factors of the wolves.
A good analogy could be found in fish. I’ve caught 23 inch trout that weighed 6 lbs and I’ve caught 23 inch trout that weighed 4 lbs. These things change due to diet and time of year.
The information for Idaho wolves has not been made public to my knowledge. If anyone has this information it would be useful.