Yellowstone wolf report. Enormous change in pack compositions

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.

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Some Yellowstone Park wolf news

Although I expect Kathie Lynch may soon have a detailed report, I got information about a few items today.

The Bechler Pack of SW Yellowstone (the only pack down there) was finally seen. It had eleven members and was several miles south of the Park near the Idaho/Wyoming border. While they will go back to the Park, this points out a serious problem with Wyoming wolf management, the Bechlers, a Yellowstone Park wolf pack could be shot during a Wyoming trophy hunt season when they leave the Park as many Park packs sometimes do.

There has been a pretty wild mating season, with a lot of cross pack mating. In a first, an alpha male (of the Leopold’s 534M) was seen mating with the beta female of the rival Agate Pack (471F). He had already mated with his “mate,” the Leopold alpha female.

302M has left the Druids, at least temporarily, and is probably doing his favorite thing, searching for love.

Genetic research by Dan Stahler, and others,* has shown that the Park wolves have gone to great lengths (although I doubt they are thinking of genetic diversity as they check each other out) to avoid inbreeding.

The Haydens might have found a new home range. It is the territory left abandoned as the new Swan Lake Pack disintegrated — from Mammoth, north to Norris Geyser Basin. Two of the five Hayden’s got radio collars — the new adult male of the pack, who will be 639M and the well known black pup, who is now 638M. Dan Stahler finds the black pup very ineresting in that his is likely the son of the pack’s former beta or subordinate female and a black interloper. If he came from the alpha pair, he should be gray or light gray like the other 2 surviving pups.

Recently a Druid pup, among other Druids was radio collared. While still somewhat under the effect of the drug, two gray wolves, unseen by the darters and collarers, came down, and one tried to attack the pup. The pup is apparently not hurt and is seen looking perfectly fit now among the rest of the Druids.

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* The genealogy and genetic viability of  reintroduced Yellowstone Gray Wolves.  Molecular Ecology (2007).  Bridgett M. Vonholdt, Daniel R . Stahler, Douglas W. Smith, Dent A. Earl, John P. Pollinger, and Robert K. Wayne

Hayden Pack found near 7-mile Bridge!

The Haydens have largely survived are have been found nowhere near their old territory, where yesterday 15 !! Mollies were hanging out.

The remnants of the pack were near Sevenmile Bridge on the Madison River about 10 miles east of West Yellowstone. There were 5 Haydens spotted, the only clearly identified one was the black pup. There is probably one adult Hayden with them. So it seems the Mollies probably nailed one more adult Hayden and one pup, although perhaps they just dispersed elsewhere alone.

The Haydens are not home free, however. They are not far from the Cougar Creek Pack which holds down the territory north of Madison River between about Sevenmile Bridge and West Yellowstone.

Even more interesting, several Bechler wolves have moved way north of their territory in Bechler Meadows in the SW corner of the Park. They are probably dispersers from this rarely seen wolf pack, and one or more of them could hook up with the adult-poor Haydens.

This information came from Dan Stahler of the Yellowstone Park wolf team.