Kathie Lynch on Yellowstone wolves: Cold April in Yellowstone

Kathie Lynch has written her latest Yellowstone wolf report.  It is always a cheer when Kathie writes about this place where wolves can live, wild and free. Wolf watching in April this year sounds very cold, but the wolves love it!

Ralph Maughan

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April 2011 wolf notes by © Kathie Lynch-

In Yellowstone, “spring” break in April is not necessarily synonymous with springtime! Days of granular corn snow flurries (or worse), biting wind and morning temperatures in the teens often ended with the drip, drip, drip of water melting off the edge of receding snow banks. Even though it seemed like winter would never end, the Wicked Witch of the West was doomed.

Of course, as soil and sage replaced the diminishing blanket of snow, the wolves became even harder to spot. Considering that only three packs (Blacktail Plateau, Lamar Canyon, and Agate Creek) are likely possibilities for watching in the Northern Range these days, I felt lucky to see a wolf most days–although my first day was a “one dog day,” and that “dog” was a coyote!

The Blacktail pack provided some excellent viewing for a couple of days as they fed on a bison carcass at Blacktail Lakes. The wolves had to share the treasure with a big, dark grizzly boar who had awakened to a mother lode of winter-killed carcasses. Thanks to the extremely severe winter, the bears will have plenty to eat for a while and won’t have to usurp the wolves’ kills, as they often do.

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Yellowstone bears and wolves fight over carcasses

Their ancient struggle apparently has little effect on their populations-

That’s the conclusion of Dr. Doug Smith who heads the Park’s wolf program.

I think that might well be true overall, but Yellowstone Park is a small place when it comes to major predators.  With the wolf population in the Park as small as it now is, random fluctuations of predatory effects might, in my opinion, have an important effect on the wolves as far as the Park alone is concerned. . . RM

Bears butting in on Yellowstone wolf kills. Battle of carnivores ultimately has little effect on population. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Kathie Lynch on Yellowstone wolf mating season

Wolfish romance on the Northern Range of Yellowstone Park-

Kathie Lynch has a detailed report on amorous adventures of Yellowstone wolves observed during her recent trip to the Park.
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By Kathie Lynch. Copyright 2011

Yellowstone’s February wolf breeding season gave us have high hopes for the arrival of new pups this April.  Although only six ties (matings) were actually observed this year, they included the alphas of all three packs which are most often seen in the Northern Range (Lamar Canyon, Blacktail, and Agate)–a very good sign for wolf watching this spring and summer!

February weather ran the gamut from unusually warm, sunny afternoons of 45F temperatures and snow-free roads to biting winds and bitterly cold days when the thermometer never got above 7 degrees. Low visibility and ground blizzards sometimes made driving a white knuckle experience, with unplowed turnouts and deep, drifted snow across roads in the Lamar Valley and on the Blacktail

Despite the wintry weather and fewer than 100 wolves in Yellowstone, we still managed to see wolves, or at least one wolf, almost every day. The Lamar wolves proved to be the most reliable, although even they frequently disappeared from view for several days at a time, no doubt hunting or doing boundary checks throughout their large territory.

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Northern Range Yellowstone elk count drops to record low in latest count

Latest  is 4,635 elk, count is down 24 percent from 6,070 last winter-
Wolf population was over 100, 5 years ago; now down to 37-*

Update. Leader of the Yellowstone wolf team, Dr. Doug Smith talks about the elk situation on Montana Public Radio News. Note that it is not the first story in the “evening news.”

News Release from the
Northern Yellowstone Cooperative Wildlife Working Group 

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, & Parks – Contact:  Karen Loveless
406-224-1162
National Park Service – Contact:  Doug Smith 307-344-2242
U.S. Forest Service – Contact: Dan Tyers 406-848-7375
U.S. Geological Survey – Contact:  Paul Cross 406-994-6908

January 12, 2011

Winter Count Shows Decline In Northern Elk Herd Population
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Wildlife biologists say increased predation, ongoing drought, and hunting
pressure all contributed to a decline in the northern Yellowstone elk
population from 1995 to 2010.

The annual aerial survey of the herd conducted during December 2010
resulted in a count of 4,635 elk, down 24 percent from the 6,070 reported
the previous year. There has been about a 70 percent drop in the size of
the northern elk herd from the 16,791 elk counted in 1995 and the start of
wolf restoration to Yellowstone National Park.

Latest Wyoming (federal) wolf update- Jan. 7, 2011

Federal wolf update is only official wolf news out there now-

Here is the latest update from Ed Bangs office, the only government folks in the West who seem to be regularly producing data now.  It says it’s for Wyoming, but it also gives Yellowstone Park news, Oregon news and other wolf news. There is a link to Montana FWP and they do have an Oct. 2010 update.  Interesting it shows the estimated wolf population in Montana for 2010 to be only 400 wolves, compared to the final 2009 count of 524 wolves. The number of 400 will probably go up a bit before the final report is issued, but preliminary data absolutely and flat out fails to show any explosion in wolf population even though the 2010 wolf hunt was canceled.

wyoming news-Jan7-2011. pdf file

Kathie Lynch updates on Yellowstone northern range wolves. Jan. 7, 2011

Kathie Lynch reveals fascinating new landscape of the wolves of northern Yellowstone-

Kathie Lynch is now perhaps the only person writing publicly the details of the Yellowstone Park wolves.  With more change than continuity in the last year, her most recent report takes us into the wolf world of the Blacktails, Lamars, Agates, Canyon, and even a bit of Mollies and the Quadrant packs.  Ralph Maughan

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© Yellowstone wolf update. Jan. 7, 2011.  By Kathie Lynch, Copyright

Winter holiday time in Yellowstone glowed with magnificent mauve, apricot and pink sunrises. Hoar frost glittered on bare trees and bushes like bright, twinkling stars, while bitterly cold temperatures of -22F and mountains of sparkling snow guaranteed a white Christmas.

While finding wolves was sometimes challenging, fox watching was incredible. In the past, the hardest part of achieving a “Three Dog Day” (seeing a wolf, coyote and fox) was finding a fox. This time, foxes were everywhere.

The star of the show was a rare dark phase red fox, which looked almost black and is sometimes called a cross fox. It delighted everyone in the Lamar Valley with its careful listening for voles under the snow and head-first dives.

With only three wolf packs (Blacktail, Lamar, and Agate) as likely wolf watching possibilities in the Northern Range, I felt lucky to see wolves almost every day of my two week stay. One day I saw no wolves and one day we could only find one–a sleeping one, at that! Another day, dawn to dusk effort on the part of devoted wolf watchers only produced two black ears behind a bush. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feds, States and others file appeal on wolf ruling

Federal Government appeals the wolf ruling-

I missed this one but it is important. Everyone knew that the states and many other groups would appeal Judge Molloy’s ruling on wolves but no one was sure whether the Federal Government would appeal the ruling too. Now that question has been answered.

State and others file appeal on wolf ruling.
By Eve Byron – Helena Independent Record