Kathie Lynch. Wolf watching good for two packs. New pup news.

Kathie Lynch has sent her first report of the summer. The new packs on the Yellowstone Northern Range occupy similar locations as those in days gone by.

Thanks Kathie!    Ralph Maughan

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Puppies! Yellowstone’s summer wolf watching season got off to a wonderful start with the debut of four pups each for the Silver pack and the (unofficially named) Lamar Canyon pack, also called 755’s Group. To add to the excitement, both packs denned within easy viewing distance of the road, offering the amazing opportunity to watch wolf pups grow up in the wild.

Unbelievably, both packs chose to den in the exact same areas used by famous Yellowstone packs in the past. The Silvers denned in the Druid Peak pack’s Lamar Valley rendezvous site, and the Lamar Canyon pack denned in the Slough Creek pack’s former home at Slough Creek. In fact, the Lamar Canyon pups were even born in the old Slough natal den!

The Silver pack (named after the silvery white alpha female) consists of five adults and four gray pups. Although the pack probably came from outside of the Park to the east, the alpha female had been seen in YNP several times previously over the last two or three years. When she returned in February 2010, she brought along an old gray alpha male, a gray yearling daughter and a gray female pup.

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Kathie Lynch: Druid wolf pack likely to fade away

Only one Druid is known to remain-

Down to one wolf. I guess that means the end of the wolf pack. The Druid Peak wolf pack was formed in the release enclosure back in 1996.  Most of the wolves came from the same pack in British Columbia, but not all.  For example the big alpha male came from another pack.  The Druids immediately set about trying, and then finally succeeding to dominate the Lamar Valley. It was a good 14 years with hundreds of thousands of people seeing them.

Kathie has all the details.

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By © Kathie Lynch.  “And then there was one.”

And then there was one… From the Druid Peak pack’s beginning in 1996 and through its glory years as Yellowstone National Park’s most famous wolf pack (with an incredible 37 members in 2001), it has come to this: yearling black Druid 690F may be the sole survivor. Mange-ridden and alone, her situation is grim.

In the last few weeks, three others (691F, the “Thin Female,” and “White Line”) have been killed by other wolves, often as they scavenged on other packs’ kills.

Six other Druids are missing, including alpha 480M, “Dull Bar,” 571F, the “Female Yearling,” “Black Bar,” and “Triangle Blaze.” We can only hope that they are somehow surviving on their own, but they are ravaged by mange, and scavenging is a dangerous business.

Leaderless after the death of alpha female 569F last fall and the subsequent dispersal of alpha 480M, the once mighty Druid Peak pack may soon be just a memory.

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Kathie Lynch: Yellowstone wolf notes Dec to Jan 2010

It looks like the Blacktails are now the largest pack on the Northern Range-

Kathie Lynch has written another report on the Yellowstone wolves (actually those on the Park’s northern range). My subhead above is just one of the many interesting facts I read in her report such as the Mollies alpha male is largest wolf in the Park.

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Yellowstone Wolf Notes. Dec. 09; Jan. 10. By Kathie Lynch
© Kathie Lynch

♦ Trips to Yellowstone in December 2009 and January 2010 provided better than expected wolf watching, considering the continuing decline in population size.

January 12, 2010, marked the fifteenth anniversary of the reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park. The year 2009 ended with less than 100 wolves in Yellowstone Park, down from 124 a year ago and close to half of the 171 counted just two years ago. The number has not been this low since just a few years after 31 wolves were reintroduced in 1995 and 1996.

The biggest current challenge some wolves are dealing with is sarcoptic mange, caused by a mite. It causes terrible itching and can kill through infection or hypothermia due to hair loss. However, wolves can recover from even severe cases, as the Mollies pack did last year.

The famous Druid Peak pack is currently the most severely affected. Every Druid wolf exhibits some degree of hair loss, especially on the tail, rear, back, legs and abdomen–anywhere they can bite and scratch at the itchy mite. It is a common sight to see them trying to sleep standing up to avoid exposing their bare spots to the cold, snowy ground.

The Druids have undergone big changes since the death of alpha female 569F last fall and the subsequent dispersal of alpha male 480M. These two wolves deserve immense credit (along with Druid 529F and Leopold/Druid/Blacktail 302M) for resurrecting the Druid Peak pack after it dwindled down to only legendary alpha 21M’s last two daughters (529F and 569F) in 2004.

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Some Yellowstone wolf news-

I’ve been in the Park the last several days, the first time in well over a year.  I didn’t expect to see wolves because their number is down and until Jan. 19 I hadn’t visited Lamar Valley.  Yesterday I did show up in the Lamar just after mid-day. Using my “expert wolf spotting skills,” I quickly found an unusual mid-day collection of vehicles and people with spotting scopes. It had to be a major wolf appearance. It was!

Rick McIntyre filled me in, while his scope showed me a view similar to the famous acceptance of wolf 21M by the all female Druid Pack, way back in the day, although the actual interactions were not a new acceptance ritual.

The wolves were visible under some cottonwood about a half mile away — four Druid females, who had been without an alpha male in the pack, were facing a big black. healthy-looking  male wolf.  He actually had first appeared with the pack on December 2. Then on January 17, an equally glossy black fellow joined him. They are probably brothers.  His apparent brother was bedded in the snow 50 yards away. The Druid females themselves were not the prettiest wolves because they suffer from mange. McIntyre told me it appeared to be mostly on their tails, but in fact had also infested some of their rears and bellies. Nevertheless, they are hanging on.  The origin of the two fine black wolves is not known, but the one I saw with the females seems to have become the new alpha. The Druid alpha female is thought to be a wolf informally called “white line.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wolf mating season on the greatly reconfigured Yellowstone northern range

The Druids are the only northern range pack still intact. New packs and groups abound-

Due to the complexity of the changes on the northern range, I know it took Kathie several weeks to write this. Ralph Maughan

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Yellowstone wolf report. Feb. 15-22, 2009. By © Kathie Lynch.

A week in Yellowstone, Feb. 15-22, 2009, during the height of the wolf breeding season, provided plenty of action and lots of surprises.

The Druid Peak pack actually was not the main attraction, as they were way up the Lamar River and out of sight most of the time.

However, the Druid’s many dispersers have contributed to the formation and gene pool of quite a few other packs or groups, including: the newly named Blacktail Pack (started by former Druid beta 302M and five Druid male yearlings-grandchildren of the great Druid alpha 21M); 694F’s Group (which includes the two Druid two-year-old females 694F/”High Sides” and “Dull Bar”-both also 21M’s grandchildren); the newly named Cottonwood Group (started by 527F, who was born to 21M and 42F, but dispersed to the Slough Creek pack and then dispersed to form her own pack in 2007); and even the Agate Creek pack (whose long-time alpha female, 472F, was also the offspring of 21M and 42F). The blood of 21M still runs strong.

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Kathie Lynch: end of the year Yellowstone Park wolf notes-

Wolf watching good in cold and snowy Yellowstone-

Once again Kathie Lynch has favored us with her detailed observations of the wolves on Yellowstone’s northern range. The redistribution of the much reduced wolf population continues, with the Druids providing a note of stability.

Famous wolf 302M seems to now, finally, lead a pack, although mating season is upon us and often causes even more wolf pack restructuring.

Here are three previous links to put Lynch’s report in context:

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Yellowstone wolf notes

by © Kathie Lynch

The holidays in Yellowstone–a winter wonderland of endless snow, howling winds, temperatures barely above and sometimes below zero degrees F, icy roads, very occasional sunshine (one day in two weeks!)–and wonderful surprises, including a Christmas grizzly and wolves whenever or wherever you could find them. Luckily, the Druid Peak pack, 302M’s Group, the Canyon Group, 471F’s Group, 470F’s Group (the “Everts Pack”), and even the elusive former Slough 527F all contributed to make it a true Wonderland for wolf watchers! Read the rest of this entry »

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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