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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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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Kathie Lynch: Northern Range wolf upate

The Druids are doing well . . . the rest, not-

Kathie Lynch just wrote one of her detailed and descriptive wolf updates. It follows below.

Please note her plea for donations to the Park’s wolf program.

Thanks Kathie!

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Yellowstone wolf notes posted on Nov. 16, 2008. Copyright © Kathie Lynch

An early November trip to Yellowstone provided close up views of the Druid Peak pack and the Canyon group. I had the good fortune to be at Curve pullout (west end of Little America) when 20 of the 21 Druids crossed the road nearby. They all looked great, including, of course, our 8 ½ -year-old hero, the dashing 302M!

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Kathie Lynch: Druid Pups and interesting Hayden/Canyon news

Kathie Lynch is spending the summer in Yellowstone. This is her first report of the summer. The Druid pups have finally been seen, and there are at least nine.

Ralph Maughan

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YNP WOLF Notes, June 16-July 5, 2008
By © Kathie Lynch

Yellowstone’s late spring rain and snow finally gave way to sunny summer skies in mid June. While the glowing green hills sparkled with a spectacular patchwork of wildflowers, raging rivers and muddy creeks spilled over their banks. An unbelievably beautiful carpet of yellow dandelions, studded with peacefully grazing bison, spread across the Lamar Valley floor. Wildlife watchers reveled in the renewal of life as they waited eagerly for news and glimpses of wolf pups.

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Leopold Pack has 18 – 24 pups!

Pup counts are coming in from Yellowstone Park, but slowly because of the long cold wet season.

I thought perhaps 2008 might be another pup crash year because the Slough Creek Pack had a number of apparently pregnant females yet has only one surviving pup. Moreover no pups have been seen yet with the Druids.

On the other hand pups have been seen with Oxbow and Agate. The Leopolds might have as many as 24 pups! These pups clearly are from multiple litters because they are of differing sizes. No more than 18 pups have been seen at once, but photographic studies of the Leopold Pack show as many as 24 different pups.

All of the other packs seem to have denned, but pups have not been seen yet due to the long spell of bad weather which will probably rejuvenate the Park after a decade of drought.

There are no new packs, but two possible ones, both Leopold split-offs — the “469 group,” seen most recently in Swan Lake Flats and the “470F group,” which has no radio collars.

Mollies Pack has occupied the former territory of the Hayden Pack and are seen a lot further south in Hayden Valley as well as the Pelican.

The Hayden Pack is near Hebgen Lake, outside the Park. The wolf that was recently shot by Montana FWP near West Yellowstone after numerous close approaches to people and buildings had the coloration of a Hayden Pack wolf (light), but was not with the pack. It might have been an odd lone wolf from who knows where, but suspicion is that it was a dispersed Hadyen. I understand a tissue sample was taken to determine the matter.