About Wolves of the Rockies
"Because we are their only voice"
To Protect & Defend Wolves of the Rocky Mountains. Gathering wolf advocates around the world to consolidate our voices into a force that will influence the protection and acceptance of wolves in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Marc Cooke -- President & Board Member. Born on the East coast. Attended college at Johnson & Wales then enlisted in the United States Army. Served in Germany during Dessert Shield and Desert Storm. Being honorable discharged spent an addition five years living and studying in Switzerland. Have been involved with wolf and other wildlife issues for over ten years at different levels.
Kim Bean Vice President & Board Member - Born and raised in Wyoming and lived in Colorado, I moved to Montana for the love of Yellowstone National Park, the wide open spaces and wild country. I am truly in-love with YNP, this is where my soul resides and where I am completely in my element. Whether backpacking, riding the mules in the back country or simply watching wildlife, this is home to me. I love this earth and her wild creatures, but my passion is with the wolves.
"Enlightenment begins where the pavement ends"!
Rhonda Lanier Secretary & Board Member I have loved animals all my life. They have always seemed to be able to speak volumes without saying a word. Simply looking into the depth of their eyes to me conveys a world that is honest and real; one that we humans could learn so much from, if only we would take the time. Wolves certainly embody the very essence of what relationships are all about. The members of a pack each play a very necessary role in the stability and security of that pack. The more I have learned about wolves over the past years as a wolf advocate has only strengthened my passion and commitment to bring education and understanding to
Lorenza Cooke Treasure & Board Member: Lorenza was born in Switzerland with a strong ethic in living with nature and enjoying all the Alps had to offer. From skiing to mushroom hunting with friends and family. Lorenza is passionate about wolves and is responsible for Wolves of the Rockies Social Media outreach effort.
Favorite Saying:" You can think what you want...but don't always say what you think!"
Kristi Lloyd Adviser: The wolves of the Great Lakes region are lesser known than the wolves of the northern Rockies but still face the same wrongful treatment by politicians, stock growers, hunters and hunting organizations as their western counterparts. Righting these wrongs and offering correct, true, and valid information and education is a big part of wolf advocacy and something I do with a passion.
Howard Goldstein is a biologist and avid wolf- watcher. He received his B.S. from Cornell University in Natural Resources and his M.S. from Penn State in Wildlife & Fishery Science. Goldstein’s academic research focused on taxonomy and systematics, biodiversity, and evolutionary ecology, and has also contributed to research and captive care of endangered fish species in Pennsylvania. Goldstein has worked as a journalist in New York, and authored several nature articles for wide audiences. Most recently, he has guided for wildlife watchers for the past four years in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, with a particular emphasis on watching wolves, conservation, and research.
Mission Statement: WOLVES OF THE ROCKIES is a (Pending) nonprofit organization working to ensure a viable, healthy population of the gray wolf throughout its historic range. This grassroots effort is supported by individuals working to promote positive attitudes toward wolves and sustain wolf recovery through:
-dispensing accurate information on how wolves live, their social structure, how they raise their young, and the critical role they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems;
-supplying accurate facts to oppose the negative images of wolves created by commercial interests, fictional entertainment, and extremists.
- speaking and writing in public and governmental forums to assure sound, scientific management of wolves by governmental entities charged with their protection.
-Working with governmental agencies and likeminded organizations to promote acceptance of the wolf in the ecosystem and the use of nonlethal methods of addressing human conflict with wolves.
another opportunity to give back to the great state of Montana
increasing social Tolerance for wolves the Big Sky Landscape. Enjoy: Photography, Horseback riding and packing mules into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Returned to the United States and lived on Cape Cod. Moved to Montana in 2000 to enjoy the backcountry and all the wildlife Montana has to offer.
Favorite Saying:" With Great Power comes Great Responsibility."
"Enlightenment begins where the pavement ends"!
these incredible animals with which we are so fortunate to share our world. To see the harmony and pack structure, starting at the top with the Alpha male and female, and the devotion to the pups not only by the parents but by the entire pack in their upbringing is truly remarkable.
She is a amateur photographer and enjoys horseback riding, packing mules and spending time with friends and wolf advocates in Yellowstone and elsewhere.
He is also currently leading The Lake Tapaje/Lower Tahuayo Basin Caiman Restoration Program, an innovative caiman conservation program in the Peruvian Amazon.
Used in tending sheep and cattle.
The Montana Wolf Challenge
WOLF COUNCIL SUMMARY
On April 12th, 2013 in Helena, Montana at MFWP Headquarters, the Wolf Advisory Council reconvened at the request of Governor Steve Bullock.
Wolves of the Rockies had a seat at the table, and we discussed one topic with many components.
Governor Bullock opened with a short statement about the importance of the Wolf Advisory Council.
Ken McDonald and George Pauley went over many of the wolf plan management components. They are concerned about new laws coming from the current Montana Legislative session.
Right now in Montana there are approximately 50 collared wolves.
Research is critical in helping the decision makers in making informed science based decisions.
Humans have the greatest impact on elk herd sizes.
There was great concern over the entire Yellowstone National Park wolf situation.
Wolves of the Rockies shared their concerns about Yellowstone wolves, and their value to the economy of local residents and businesses in Gardiner, and areas along the border of YNP. We emphasized research from the Yellowstone Wolf Program is priceless. Several members of the audience participated by reaffirming the importance of Yellowstone wolves.
Getting back to the council members, several encouraged the decision makers not to treat Yellowstone wolves any different than other wolves in Montana, as it would set a precedent that could snowball in the future.
Other council members said Yellowstone wolves are indeed different. They have a research and economic value for the local people as well as FWP and hunters alike.
Furthermore there should be no cap on the amount of wolves in Montana. This could only lead to further concern down the road. The wolves should be treated like any other predator here in Montana: no caps.
It is hoped that house bills 73, which was signed by the governor in February, will give additional tools to help manage wolves, we need to be cautious of future legislation that will have an impact on wolf management. If wolf numbers drop to 200/250, this will trigger a revue with the Federal Government.
Cause for concern with FWP is funding. 2015 will be the last year the federal government will provide FWP funding for the wolf program ie., depredation loss compensation et al.
Montana is very concerned about where this funding will come from starting in 2016.
Caroline Sime, the former Wolf Management Coordinator for MT FWP, was asked to attend but declined.
Toward the end of the meeting the Chairman of the advisory council, Chase Hibbard, conducted a round-table discussion; where do we go from here?
We need to improve social tolerance and the use of non-lethal measures.
Several members suggested allowing things in Montana to evolve naturally.
Many members believe the wolf management plan is balanced but are concerned with the increase in extreme attitudes toward wolves.
Some members believe that with new science the plan needs to be “tweaked” because of too many wolves in Montana.
One member suggested we let wolves find their own place on the landscape, and that we should manage by location not by population.
We need to let the public in on these plans and some advisory members believe that hunters and sportsmen have to give some.
The Blackfeet reservation plan is working well.
Some believe there is still a role for the Wolf Advisory Council or something similar.
Consensus was that the plan is going well but more aggressive outreach is needed.
We are moving from the recovery mode to the management mode and we need more public involvement, was not comfortable to having to do this but believe it to be essential.
One member would like to have a bounty on wolves in the future, as people will lose the incentive to hunt them.
We need to be very careful on the boundary around Yellowstone National Park. This would increase (in the eyes of some members) the boundary of the park.
It should be considered to alter or combine some of hunting districts to accommodate various needs. This was a response that was directed towards YNP.
Wolves of the Rockies will continue to work with hunters, livestock owners/managers, and all other parties to increase public acceptance of wolves on the landscape.
Please support on Facebook Wolves of the Rockies.
"Because we are their only voice"
Wolves of the Rockies & Friends Talk Wolf With
Montana Govern Steve Bullock
Wolves of the Rockies & Friends recently met with Montana Governor Steve Bullock and his Environmental Adviser Tim Baker. From start to finish we defended and promoted the need to protect and defend wolves in Montana. We had the good fortune to have several friends and representatives of wolf advocate organizations. Native Montanan and Ranching Adviser for “Living With Wolves” Steve Clevidence, “The War for 754” Doug McLaughlin from Yellowstone NP, Good Friends and confidant Suzie & JD Love, Bill Stroud.
We discussed in detail the critical research and revenue value of Yellowstone Wolves. The current declining population of wolves on the northern range within Yellowstone National Park.
Items that were discussed with the Governor ran the gauntlet. From wolf induced Trophic Cascade to the current Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks 2013-14 Wolf Hunting & Trapping Proposal which Wolves of the Rockies has outright rejected. WotR has offered a science based proposal that the Senior Management within MtFWP refuses to consider. We emphasized to Steve & Tim that the current MtFWP wolf proposal is nothing short of Intensive Management.
At one point in the discussion WotR presented Governor Bullock a novel called “Running For Home” by Gail S. McDiarmid & Marilyn S. McGee. This novel was meant for Governor Bullock's children.
Steve Clevidence explained that there is no room for trapping within Montana and we need representation within MtFWP.
We departed strongly encouraging the Governor and his adviser to provide a mechanism for wolf advocates to provide funding to support wolves in Montana. However… this future funding could in no way be used for lethal control actions!
Wolves of the Rockies wishes to thank Governor Bullock, Tim Baker, Steve Clevidence,Bill Stroud, Doug McLaughlin, Suzie & J.D. Love and you our followers and supporters.
L to R: Suzie Love, Doug McLaughlin, Marc Cooke, Kim Bean, J.D. Love, Bill Stroud and Steve Clevidence with Living With Wolves
Wolves of the Rockies is a 100 percent volunteer organization. We function on the of our supporter & followers.
Top of the food chain and next to be hunted in Montana
Yellowstones Iconic Threatend Wolves
WotR Shuts Down HD 310,320 316 & 390
The 2012 season is the third Montana wolf hunt and the first Montana trapping season; the second Montana hunting season since wolves were delisted by Congress. This is the second year of a five year federal monitoring requirement by the Endangered Species Act over-viewed by USFWS.
Predator, prey dynamics and species diversity in Montana are perhaps the most complex within the continental United States.
With two hunting seasons completed and midway through the third hunting season, a vast amount of data has been documented, and hopefully, much has been learned. The prior two hunting season did not allow trapping so therefore the considerable impact of other predators on ungulate populations were not taken into consideration.
Measurable Objective states “Learn and Improve as we go!” These six words encourage thought and reason. Carolyn Sime realized almost immediately that there was cause for concern in the terrain that Montana & Yellowstone National Park share. With the loss of the Cottonwood Pack and its two collared wolves came setbacks. Research within the park that is of monumental value was staggered. Three years later we are experiencing Déjà vu. We must search within and realize we have drastically failed in implementing Objective #7.
Now it is essential, from both a research & tourist standpoint, that we implement the necessary adjustment to rectify this from happening again. We request that WMU 390 have a sub unit (WMU 390A Red Map Lines) within its shared border with Yellowstone Nation Park. We request that a quota based mechanism be implemented in WMU 390A; and that this quota be two wolves per hunting and trapping season. Within the WMU 390A we establish a closure area (Green Map Lines). There would be no hunting, trapping or snaring allowed of wolves in this specific area. The area in question has been closed in the past, so there is a precedence which suggest this is within acceptable parameters.
(This argument presented to Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commissioners in December 2012 led to the closing of wolf hunting areas that bordered Yellowstone National Park)
For a copy of the entire 12 page proposal contact:
Wyoming & Idaho Wolf Update
The proposals for wolf hunting and trapping season 2014-15 should be online in the next week to ten days so wolf advocates can comment. Please return to this page near the end of Febuary 2014.
Wolves of the Rockies will provide talking points and contact information to assist you in contacting Idaho Fish & Game. Please take the time to let Idaho Fish & Game know how you feel about killing wolves in Idaho!
Our New Webpage is under construction. We appreciate you support and patience! Please check back soon....
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
Out & About with Friends of Wolves of the Rockies
I believe that any trip to Yellowstone is a life changing, enriching experience, and this one certainly was. But there was one very, very special evening that we at Wolves of the Rockies would like to share with you. On Tuesday evening we had the privilege of hosting a dinner with the film maker Bob Landis as the guest of honor.
Many of you may remember that Bob graciously allowed WotR to launch our website last December with his incredibly moving tribute to 06. In appreciation of Bob’s friendship to WotR, and all he has done over the years to educate people about wolves, presenting them in a true light, we presented him with a plaque from the Wolves of the Rockies board members and our friends and supporters.
Bob has been filming wildlife in the Yellowstone area for quite some time now, over 30 to 40 years, depending on which biography you read. His passion, knowledge and understanding of the wildlife that inhabit the park are quite simply unsurpassed. Bob’s first documentary for National Geographic in 1993 was a feature film on coyotes: "Realm of the Coyote".
Bob went on the make the highly coveted “In the Valley of the Wolves”. “In 1995, the first gray wolves were transported from Alberta, Canada to Yellowstone National Park, to repopulate the sprawling landscape with the species, absent for more than 70 years. The following year, a second wave of wolves was brought to the park from British Columbia, Canada; five of them were released together, and they were named the Druid Peak pack. Since the arrival of those first immigrants, wolves have thrived in Yellowstone — and none more dramatically than the Druids.” For a peak at what this documentary and all it inspires in learning more about wolves, take a peak.
And finally, in order to really appreciate this talented man we are lucky enough to call our friend, I intend to buy the book “Wildlife Stalker” by Kevin G. Rhoades. After all if it were not for Bob we would be sadly lacking on any film and footage or stories on the packs that are tragically no longer with us. Rhonda
Bob Landis of Landis Wildlife Films
Bob was kind enough to share a preview of the new documentary he is making on the Queen of the Lamar Valley, F832 better known and loved worldwide simply as 06. This will hopefully be airing on PBS shortly after the first of the year in January 2014.
Board Member and West Coast Regional Director Rhonda Lanier presenting Bob with a plaque of recognition on behalf of Wolves of the Rockies Board, Supporters & Followers.
And then there is the highly romantic story of 302 – the most notorious flirt in Yellowstone – Casanova.
Kristi is an adviser to Wolves of the Rockies and Diane is an adviser to Wolf Conservation Center.
Making News Defending Wolves
The need for stable, uninterrupted short term and long term wolf research is essential to the future of a viable wolf & ungulate population within Montana & Yellowstone National Park. The wolf program within the borders of YSNP have in the past & continue to very recently provide cutting edge, peer reviewed research that is applicable wherever wolves reside.
Let science, not politics determine wolves' fate
Guest column Howard Goldstein, Rocky Mountains Adviser for Wolves of the Rockies
Wolves At The Door
Can two top predators coexist in the American West?
It’s a story about what we have in common — we’re social, adaptable and fiercely territorial. It's also a story about whether we can get along.
report by Nathan Rott, NPR.
Since the start of Montana wolves hunting and trapping season, we have been monitoring the WMU percentage of wolves casualties.
Some of these areas are cause of great concern.
Please read our letter to MT FWP Commissioners and take a close look at the chart that will give you a better idea.
Wolf watchers want IDs of dead animals near park
Oct. 16, 2013
Wolf plan doesn’t have to be a challenge
Kim Bean answer to Dir. Hagener guest column
Oct. 21, 2013
Montana’s wolf management challenge
Mt. FWP Jeff Hagener Guest column
Oct. 11, 2013
Sources of agency funds influence fate of predators
Murder of Yellowstone Wolves Threatens Area Renaissance
Sept.2 , 2013
Howard Golstein, video on Yellowstone wolves, Bloomberg article
MT: Sources of agency funds influence fate of predators
September 6, 2013
FWP Commission approves more aggressive wolf season
July 11, 2013
Montana nearly doubles wolf kill limit for hunters
July 11, 2013
Wolves in Montana improperly managed
June 20, 2013
Wolf-baiting claims fought by officials
FWP releases minimum wolf count for 2012
March 21, 2013
Protected no longer, more than 550 gray wolves killed this season by hunters and trappers
March 6, 2013
Support for wolf harvest decision
December 27, 2012
Comment Wolves of the Rockies on the Missoula Independent about trapping
Oct. 12, 2012
Wolf politics raise hackles in U.S. West
Jul 16, 2012
Wolves of the Rockies Monthly Newsletter & Action Alerts
February Newsletter Ed Bangs Interview...Complex or Contradiction
Seven Yellowstone Park wolves killed in state wolf hunts
November 15th, 2012
Deaths of 5 wolves sparks concern
Yellowstone wolves possibly among those killed in Wyoming
Wolf watchers want IDs of dead animals
Environmental Group Tries To Sabotage Wolf Hunting Season
Sept. 25, 2013
Wolves in Montana improperly managed
June 20, 2013
Guest column by MARC COOKE and KIM BEAN
Montana shuts down wolf harvest near Yellowstone
Jan, 2, 2013
More collared research wolves killed in hunt. This time Grand Teton National Park.
Dec, 13, 2012
World's Most Famous Wolf Killed
Dec, 13, 2012
For wolf lovers, Yellowstone in winter can be a thrilling place
Dec. 16, 2012
Yellowstone’s Most Popular Wolf "832F" From Lamar Canyon Pack Was Killed Legally By Hunters
December 10, 2012
Killing of World Famous Wolf Reignites Battle in the Rockies
December 10th, 2012
Gray Wolves Shot Near Yellowstone, Wildlife Commissioners To Consider Hunting Restrictions
Dec. 10, 2012
Yellowstone's 'Famous' Alpha Wolf Shot and Killed
Dec. 10, 2012
World's 'Most Famous' Wolf Killed
December 10, 2012
Mourning an Alpha Female
Dec. 10, 2012
Yellowstone wolf shootings draw scrutiny in Mont.
Dec. 10, 2012
Most Famous Wolf in Yellowstone National Park Killed by Hunters
Dec. 11, 2012
Famous Yellowstone wolf among seven shot
Kathie Lynch YSWR
Welcome Kathie Lynch!
It's a privilege and honor to introduce Kathie Lynch to our friends, supporters and followers. Kathie is nothing short of a wolf connoisseur in Yellowstone National Park. Her passion is only matched by her ability to locate and share wolf information, and stories with wildlife enthusiast visiting the park as well as reaching out to less fortunate individuals not presently in Yellowstone!
Yellowstone Wolf Update
April 2014, by Kathie Lynch, Copyright 2014
With wolves more scare than they used to be in Yellowstone’s Northern Range, hopeful watchers should count themselves lucky if they get to see them, and, especially, if they are able to observe interesting behaviors. While the February breeding season did not offer the chance to see as many ties (matings) as in other years, it did not disappoint in terms of action and intrigue!
Even dedicated observers only saw two ties during the entire breeding season, both on February 2 and both in the 8 Mile pack. Surprisingly, the older beta male, 763M, accomplished both ties while alpha male 871M was busy keeping track of alpha female 909F! Each time 871M realized what was going on, he rushed to the scene, but he was unable to break up the ties.
The two females who bred with 763M were 821F and an uncollared gray. They are both probably sisters of 8 Mile alpha female 909F. The three are thought to have dispersed together in 2011 to the 8 Mile pack from the now defunct Quadrant Mountain pack. DNA testing may eventually show that the three sisters carry valuable genes from important YNP packs of the past inherited from their probable parents, former Quadrant alphas Leopold 469F and Geode 695M.
The large 8 Mile pack (18 strong last summer and fall, including nine 2013 pups) has now likely split into at least two groups, the main pack and 763M’s Group of three, with a few other individuals unaccounted for. We hope that the 8 Mile wolves, which have an excellent record of raising pups to adulthood, will produce several litters in 2014 to carry on those important historical genes.
Unquestionably, the most famous repository of currently famous genes lies in Lamar Canyon alpha 926F (“The Black Female”), a daughter of the late, great, legendary “’06 Female” (832F). The very small Lamar Canyon pack of two, 926F and her alpha, 925M (“Big Gray”), has spent a lot of time this winter in the traditional Lamar Canyon territory formerly occupied by the Druid Peak pack in the Lamar and Soda Butte Valleys.
Gray alpha 925M served nobly last year as adoptive dad to the two black Lamar Canyon pups of 926F’s older sister, “Middle Gray.” If 926F does have pups this year, we hope that 925M, who will have to hunt alone for a while, will be able to keep his new family well fed.
Following several dispersals, the Junction Butte pack seems to have settled down to a count of seven: alphas 890M and 870F, 2-year-old mange survivor 869M, and last year’s four gray pups, now officially classified as yearlings.
Ever gregarious 869M serves as the pack’s official greeter, perpetually bouncing around. He loves his role as favorite uncle and is especially overjoyed to see and play with his younger siblings.
Yellowstone Wolf Update
January 2014, by Kathie Lynch
Looking for wolves in Yellowstone’s Northern Range has its ups and downs these days. Watchers may get lucky and see the Junction Butte pack of nine or even the Eight Mile pack of 18. But, failing that, opportunities can be few and far between. The only other possibilities include the two Lamar Canyons, two in 755M’s Group, possibly three Blacktails, and the seven Canyons—if they happen to visit the Mammoth area.
On my recent week-long visit in early January 2014, I saw only 17 wolves total, including three wolf-less days, three days with an hour or less each day of the two Lamar Canyons (in a snowstorm every time), and one “just like the good old days” day of watching all nine Junction Buttes and then 755M and his mate, 889F.
It is always a treat to see everybody’s favorite, the silvery-black former Lamar Canyon alpha, 755M. He is now on his third new mate since losing “The ’06 Female” (832F) to a Wyoming hunter’s bullet over a year ago. His latest partner, 889F, was formerly with the Junction Butte pack, although she probably originally came from the Mollie’s pack.
Seven fifty-five had pursued her last spring, but lost out then to 890M, who dispersed from Junction Butte with 889F. The two dark blacks spent the summer together and were sometimes seen up the Tower Road in the Antelope Creek area.
However, in October, 890M returned to the Junction Butte pack and 889F started appearing with 755M. The new duo is now called “755’s Group,” and we hope that they will stay together though the breeding season and produce pups.
In early January, 755M showed that he had learned a thing or two from “’06” when he made an elk kill all by himself! He will need such skill and a lot of luck to be able to provide for his family, if 889F does have pups. Their situation is complicated by 889F’s severely injured right front foot (cause unknown), which slows her down and makes it difficult to hunt and could make it hard to for her to get away from rival packs.
The Junction Butte pack remains sound, despite experiencing a huge change in leadership. Both of last year’s alphas, “Puff” and “Ragged Tail,” and also beta “New Male,” have disappeared. Without them, the alpha positions fell open to returning 890M and former alpha 870F (who was injured last year during breeding season and then lost her alpha position to “Ragged Tail”).
The rest of the Junction Butte pack includes the beta black female (who may be the mother of some of last year’s pups and is not the same as the Lamar Canyon pack’s black female, 926F), gray yearling 869M (the scrappy survivor of a terrible case of mange last winter as a pup), black yearling 906M (869M’s best buddy and constant play partner), and four gray pups.
The Junction Butte pack has done well to have all four of its pups survive almost a year. Unfortunately, at least two of the pups have mange, including 907F, who has a rope tail, and another pup, who scratches a lot and has patches of mange on both elbows.
Meanwhile, the Lamar Canyon pack continues its struggle to rebuild after the loss of legendary alpha female, “’06. The latest version of the pack includes only one real Lamar Canyon wolf, 926F (the 2-year-old “Black Female”), who is the daughter of “The ’06 Female” and 755M.
Her alpha male, 925M (“Big Gray”), came into the Park from Wyoming a year ago with her older sister, “Middle Gray” as his alpha female. Even though he was not the biological father of last year’s two black and one gray Lamar Canyon pups (because two gray parents can not produce a black pup), he took on the role of Lamar Canyon alpha male and served well as a stalwart provider, companion and baby-sitter.
All of last summer, 926F (the “Black Female”) tried to woo alpha 925M (“Big Gray”) away from her sister, alpha female “Middle Gray.” Apparently, 926F has finally succeeded now that “Middle Gray” and all three of last year’s pups have disappeared.
Yellowstone Wolf Update, September 2013
By Kathie Lynch, Copyright 2013
Crisp mornings, afternoon thunderstorms, smoky skies, and scarce wolf sightings all tell you that fall is right around the corner in Yellowstone National Park. As the first yellow leaves appeared on willows along Soda Butte Creek, we wondered each morning whether we would find any wolves to watch.
All summer we had had only a few sporadic sightings of the Junction Butte pack’s seven adults. So, we were thrilled when, on August 1, the pack showed up at Slough Creek with four handsome, darkly marked gray pups!
In wolf packs, yearlings traditionally tend the pups. The Junction Butte’s baby-sitting job fell to two enthusiastic young males, a dark black with a distinguished gray chin and a special little gray, 869M.
It is especially heart-warming to see gallant 869M playing with and excitedly chasing his brother and the four pups. For 869M, who somehow survived most of his first year of life with a bad limp, ravaged by mange and often alone, I am sure that these are the happiest days of his life.
The Junction Butte adult black female also takes a lot of interest in the pups and may even be the mother of some of them. When she wants the pups to follow, she employs a favorite trick we have seen many wolves use. With a long stick (or sometimes an antler) in her mouth, she marches off, and the pups fall right in line behind her like they’re in a parade!
The other possible mother of this year’s Junction Butte pups is the alpha female, “Ragged Tail.” She displaced former alpha 870F during the breeding season last February after 870F injured her neck and could not keep up with the pack. Although she has since recovered and rejoined the pack, 870F did not regain her alpha position.
The Junction Butte pack formed a year ago by combining dispersers from two different packs. While all three adult females likely hail from the Mollies pack, both of the big males, alpha “Puff” and beta “New Male,” are probably former Blacktails.
Technically, two other wolves, 889F and 890M, count in the Junction Butte pack, but they dispersed last spring and are making their own life together away from the main pack. They are occasionally seen in the Antelope Valley area.
The old Blacktail pack now includes only the two alphas, former Druid 778M/”Big Brown” (the last true Druid) and former Agate 693F (littermate of the late, famous Lamar Canyon alpha, the “’06 Female”/832F). Unfortunately, the Blacktail alphas had no pups again this year and are only rarely seen.
For much of the summer, the four adults of the Lamar Canyon pack provided most of the wolf watching opportunities in the Northern Range. The adults include alpha male “Big Gray” (probably originally a Wyoming wolf), 3-year-old alpha female “Middle Gray,” her 2-year-old black female sister, and their yearling black brother 859M. These last three represent each of the three litters of illustrious former Lamar Canyon alphas “’06” and 755M.
To our delight, in early July, two fat, black Lamar Canyon pups started making appearances! It was great fun to watch the pups playing around the edges of the den forest and digging in the badger hole under the watchful eye of their own devoted babysitter, yearling 859M.
Throngs of hopeful wolf watchers gathered daily in Lamar Valley’s early morning chill and late evening dusk (often rewarded with spectacular sunsets), hoping to catch even a momentary glimpse of the two pups as they passed through openings between trees.
One favorite image I have etched in my own mind’s eye is of the 2-year-old black female tenderly grooming the black female pup. She licked and licked and gently nibbled over every inch of that contented little one.
Unfortunately, the fate of the two pups is not known. The biggest, fattest, darkest pup was last seen August 4, and the smaller, lighter black female pup was last seen scampering along behind two of the adults on August 15. Since adult wolves usually move pups to a rendezvous area in July or August, we still hold out hope that the pups are out there somewhere.
From time to time we will be posting updates and interesting stories that Kathie shares with us about Yellowstone wolves. Please welcome Kathie and enjoy her wonderful narratives.
The Junction Butte alphas had quite a time during the breeding season trying to keep track of each other, while at the same time rounding up wayward females who were attempting to run off with interloping males. It looked like a merry-go-round in the Slough Creek area every day, with wolves chasing each other this way and that and a constantly shifting configuration of who was with whom.
Two Junction Butte female dispersers, an uncollared black female and black 889F, were the objects of interest for two males, former Lamar Canyon alpha 755M and gray 911M, whose origin is uncertain (although he was collared as a Blacktail).
Before 890M became the Junction Butte alpha, he was with 889F throughout last summer. However, in the fall, 890M rejoined the Junction Butte pack and rose to alpha status, while 889F turned up with 755M. During the winter, the Junction Butte black female started showing up with the duo, and then 911M made his appearance. After that, it was a whirlwind of mix and match, often leaving 755M as the odd man out.
We could not believe our eyes one day when Junction Butte alpha 870F sneaked away from her alpha male, 890M, and made a play for 755M! There stood 870F on a nearby hill, averting her tail (signaling readiness to mate) to 755M, who twice tried to mount her. Wisely, he was too nervous to be caught in a compromising position and kept looking for trouble, expecting to be blind-sided at any moment by the jilted 890M. It was hilarious when 870F stood upright on her hind legs, trying on tiptoes to see just where 890M might be! The flirtation ended without a tie or an attack.
Since the breeding season ended, 755M has again been seen with 889F, so maybe that relationship will stick. If 911M stayed with the black female, then two more alpha males will face the same problem as Lamar Canyon 925M: trying to feed and defend a growing family with only one adult male in the group. Poor old 8 Mile beta 763M has an even bigger problem with possibly two pregnant females. It will be a challenge for each of these new, small groups to carve out a territory and survive.
Meanwhile, another lone male, gray Blacktail alpha 778M (the last true Druid Peak pack member), apparently solved the problem by adopting a ready-made family. After his alpha female, 693F (the last true Agate Creek pack member) died, a gray adult female and two pups (one black, one gray) moved in with 778M. Their origin is unknown, but the female may be a Canyon pack disperser. If 778M produces pups with this new female, his illustrious Druid genes will live on.
The Canyon pack, which lives in the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone’s Interior, made fewer trips than usual to the Northern Range this winter. Occasionally, the stalwart now-9-year- old alpha pair, 712M and the beautiful white female, appeared in the Mammoth area, sometimes accompanied by one or two grays. Hopefully, the Canyon pack’s long-time alpha pair will produce their eighth litter together this year, an amazing accomplishment.
We will be watching closely to see where the various females choose to den. It was exciting to actually see Junction Butte alpha 870F digging furiously at the old Slough Creek pack’s den above Slough Creek, last used by famous Lamar Canyon alpha “‘06” in 2010. Pregnant females spend a lot of time and energy investigating and preparing a variety of likely spots, so there is no way of knowing if 870F will choose to den there—but it sure would be great for wolf watching if she did!
And now, at last, it’s April—denning time in Yellowstone! Time to reap the rewards of seeds sown two months ago in the breeding season. Time, once again, for wolves to flourish and secure their rightful place on the landscape and their keystone role in the circle of life.
We, of course, hope that “Middle Gray” and her pups are alive and well somewhere and that 925M and 926F chose to carry on the Lamar Canyon tradition (and that of her ancestors, the Druids) by denning in the traditional Druid Peak pack’s den site in Lamar Valley, but that remains to be seen.
The Blacktail Plateau pack poses another mystery. Long time alpha 693F (the last true Agate Creek pack member) has not been seen recently. Since she disappeared, her mate, 778M (the last true Druid Peak pack member), has at times been with one or two new grays, including 911M. The newcomers’ origins are unknown, but they may be returning Blacktail pack members. During the upcoming February breeding season both 778M and 911M will likely be looking for mates.
Last year’s breeding season featured a lot of activity on the Blacktail Plateau. The Eight Mile pack put on quite a show then, and their efforts paid off with the arrival of nine pups in 2013, bringing the total pack size to 18! They have done a great job of raising their pups and have suffered no losses thus far.
The Eight Mile pack’s large size, with 12 blacks and only 6 grays, makes them fun to spot. The pack includes alphas 909F (gray) and 871M (black), old graying black 763M, gray adults (including 821F), gray and black yearlings, black 910M, plus seven black pups (including 908F) and two gray pups. Possibly three of the gray adult females, including 909F and 821F, originally dispersed from the old Quadrant Mountain pack to join the Eight Mile pack.
I devoted all three of my recent wolf-less days to looking for the Canyon pack around Mammoth. The beautiful white alpha female and her long-time mate, 712M, will both soon be 9 years old. The other pack members include two pups (one black, one gray) and three other grays who are the alphas’ one-, two-, and/or three-year old offspring. Unfortunately, one black pup is no longer being seen with the pack.
The bottom line is: it’s not as easy as it used to be to find wolves to watch. Although it may sound like there are a lot of wolves out there, many have simply disappeared. And, all of the six packs that may be seen in the Northern Range also spend a lot of time out of view.
If you count it up, unless you are lucky enough to see the 18 Eight Miles, or the seven Canyons just happen to be around, there are only 16 other wolves you might see in the Northern Range (two Lamar Canyons, two in 755’s Group, nine Junction Buttes, and maybe three Blacktails).
Of course, interlopers may come into the Park from outside at any time, and they are especially likely to do so during the breeding season when dispersers are looking for new mates. Hopefully, February will offer more viewing opportunities, lots of howling, and some interesting behavior to watch as males try to woo females away from their natal pack.
And, hopefully again, all of that activity will result in lots of pups to carry on the legacy of the wolves who made history 19 years ago when they were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park after an absence of almost 70 years!
The whole situation is currently a mystery, however, because the Lamar Canyon adults have apparently now moved away from the den forest to an unknown location. Only time will tell if they come back for the winter and if one or both pups will be with them.
Some of the Lamar Canyon adults have returned a few times to howl and guard their home territory against intrusion by neighboring packs. The Junction Butte pack, which usually stays west of Slough Creek, has made some forays far into Lamar Valley, even reaching as far to the east as the old Druid rendezvous, which is not that far from the Lamar Canyon’s den forest.
If the Lamar Canyons do return, it will be interesting to see if the 3-year-old “Middle Gray” has been able to maintain her alpha position. Although she is the older sister, “Middle Gray” at times has been extremely submissive to the 2-year-old black female.
One day, “Middle Gray” crawled up to her younger sister on her belly, licking the black female’s muzzle and groveling on the ground with all four feet in the air. Meanwhile, the 2-year-old black female stood over her older sister in a dominant position with hackles raised.
The black female has also been cozying up to alpha male “Big Gray” whenever she can. Since she seems to have designs on the alpha position, even more changes in leadership may lie ahead for the Lamar Canyon pack.
Several times in late summer we were treated to the unexpected appearance in Lamar Valley of an old favorite who has also been a victim of leadership change. Although he has been through a lot, former Lamar Canyon alpha male 755M looks absolutely beautiful, sporting a sleek silvery-gray coat with black trim, topped off with his distinctive big ears.
However, 755M is apparently alone again after his Lamar Canyon alpha female (“’06”/832F) was killed in the Wyoming hunt last December. Unfortunately, the gray female who joined 755M last winter is no longer being seen with him, and her whereabouts is unknown.
With the Lamar Canyons gone and Junction Butte sightings sporadic, some Northern Range wolf watchers have been making the long journey south over Dunraven Pass to try to see the Canyon wolf pack.
Even in Hayden Valley, things have been challenging, what with heavy smoke from fires in Yellowstone and the fact that, for the first time, the Canyons have moved their rendezvous site to the west of the road.
Still, sharp-eyed and patient watchers can usually spot some of the 10 Canyon wolves, including the white alpha female, black alpha 712M, some of the five gray adults (the distance and smoke make it hard to tell which) and the three pups (two blacks and one gray).
As the aspen and cottonwood leaves glow brilliant gold in the autumn light, September’s early snows will start to move the elk down from the high country and more wolves should return to the Northern Range.
Sadly, with the long wolf hunting and trapping seasons underway in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho (outside of Yellowstone National Park), many wolves will be killed, including Yellowstone wolves that venture out across invisible park boundaries. But, hopefully, many, many more will stay safe and survive to help keep the ecosystem complete, healthy, and wild.
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Books & Research
Räikkönen J, Vucetich JA, Peterson RO, Nelson MP, Vucetich LM. 2013. What the inbred Scandinavian wolf population tells us about the nature of conservation. PLOS ONE 8(6): e67218. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067218. [pdf]
Peterson RO, JA Vucetich and LM Vucetich. 2013. Osteoarthritis in nature: osteoarthritis phenotypes are sexually dimorphic in moose (Alces alces). Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 21:S69. [pdf]
Montgomery RA, JA Vucetich, RO Peterson, GJ Roloff, KF Millenbach. 2013. The influence of winter severity, predation and senescence on moose habitat use. Journal of Animal Ecology 82(2):301-309. [pdf]
Vucetich, JA. 2013. Wolves and their place in the great hierarchy of life. In Thiel, D (ed) Wild Wolves We Have Known. International Wolf Center.
Nelson MP, Vucetich JA. 2013. The value of wilderness. in The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by Hugh LaFollette, Wiley-Blackwell, print pages 5476-5484, DOI: 10.1002/ 9781444367072.wbiee645. [pdf]
Vucetich JA, Nelson MP, Peterson RO. 2012. Managing wolves on Isle Royale: What should be done if an icon of wilderness culture dies out? The George Wright Forum, 29(1): 126–147. [pdf]
Metz M, Smith D, Vucetich J, Stahler D, Peterson R. 2012. Seasonal patterns of predation for gray wolves in the multi-prey system of Yellowstone National Park. Journal of Animal Ecology 81(3):553-563, DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01945.x. [pdf]
Frelich LE, Peterson RO, Dovčiak M, Reich PB, Vucetich JA, Eisenhauer N. 2012. Trophic cascades, invasive species and body-size hierarchies interactively modulate climate change responses of ecotonal temperate-boreal forest. Phil Trans R Soc B 367:2955-2961 (doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0235).[pdf]
Nelson, MP & JA Vucetich. 2012. The ethics of sustainability science. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):12. [pdf]
Marucco F, Vucetich LM, Peterson RO, Adams JR, Vucetich JA. 2012. Evaluating the efficacy of non-invasive genetic methods and estimating wolf survival during a ten-year period. Conservation Genetics 13(6):1611-1622 (DOI 10.1007/s10592-012-0412-4).[pdf]
Witt JC, Webster CR, Froese RE, Drummer TD, and Vucetich, JA. 2012. Scale-dependent drivers of ungulate patch use along a temporal and spatial gradient of snow depth. Can J Zool 90(8): 972-983 (DOI 10.1139/z2012-065) [pdf]
Vucetich JA, Huntzinger BA, Peterson RO, Vucetich LM, Hammill JH, Beyer DE. 2012. Intra-seasonal variation in wolf Canis lupus kill rates. Wildlife Biology 18:1-12. [pdf]
Sand H, Vucetich JA, Zimmermann B, Wabakken P, Wikenros C, Pederson H, Peterson RO, Liberg O. 2012. Assessing the influence of prey–predator ratio, prey age structure and packs size on wolf kill rates. Oikos. (doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2012.20082.x). [pdf]
Vucetich JA, Vucetich LM, Peterson, RO. 2012. The causes and consequences of partial prey consumption by wolves preying on moose. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 66: 295-303, DOI: 10.1007/s00265-011-1277-0. [pdf]
Peterson RO, Vucetich JA, Beyer D, Schrage M, Räikkönen J. 2011. Phenotypic Variation in Moose: The island rule and the moose of Isle Royale. Alces 47:125-133. [pdf]
MacNulty D, D Smith, D Mech, JA Vucetich, C Packer. 2011. Nonlinear effects of group size on the success of wolves hunting elk. Behavioral Ecology doi: 10.1093/beheco/arr159. [pdf]
Adams JR, LM Vucetich, PW Hedrick, RO Peterson, JA Vucetich. 2011. Genomic sweep and potential genetic rescue during limiting environmental conditions in an isolated wolf population. Proceedings Royal Soc B 278:3336-3344. [pdf]
Geffen et al. 2011. Kin encounter rate and inbreeding avoidance in canids. Molecular Ecology 20: 5348–5358. [pdf]
Gore ML, Nelson MP, Vucetich JA, Smith AM, Clark MA. 2011. Exploring the ethical basis for conservation policy: the case of inbred wolves on Isle Royale, USA. Conservation Letters 4(5):394-401. [pdf]
Hedrick P, J Adams, JA Vucetich. 2011. Genetic Rescue: Re-evaluating and Broadening the Definition. Conservation Biology 25(6):1069–1070. [pdf]
Metz, MC, JA Vucetich, DW Smith, DR Stahler, RO Peterson. 2011. Effect of sociality and season on gray wolf (Canis lupus) foraging behavior: Implications for estimating summer kill rate. PLoS ONE 6(3)e17332. [pdf]
Nelson, MP, JA Vucetich, PC Paquet, JK Bump. 2011. North American Model: An Inadequate Construct? The Wildlife Professional 58-60. [pdf]
Nelson, MP, JA Vucetich, RO Peterson, LM Vucetich. 2011. The Isle Royale wolf-moose project (1958-present) and the wonder of long-term ecological reesearch. Endeavour 35(1):30-38. [pdf]
Silvia, WJ, RO Peterson, WF Silvia, JA Vucetich, AW Silvia. 2011. The occurrence and morphology of a lateral metatarsal splint bone in moose (Alces alces). The Anatomical Record 294(2):231-235. [pdf]
Vucetich JA, M Hebblewhite, DW Smith, RO Peterson. 2011. Predicting prey population dynamics from kill rate, predation rate and predator-prey ratios in three wolf- ungulate systems. Journal of Animal Ecology 80:1236-1245. [pdf]
Peterson, RO, JA Vucetich, G Fenton, TD Drummer, CS Larsen. 2010. The ecology of arthritis. Ecology Letters 13(9):1124–1128. [pdf]
Vucetich JA, Nelson MP. 2010. Sustainability: virtuous or vulgar? Bioscience 60(7):539-544. [pdf]
Carroll, C, JA Vucetich, MP Nelson, DJ Rohlf, MK Phillips. 2010. Geography and Recovery under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Conservation Biology, 24(2):395-403. [pdf]
Vucetich, JA. 2010. Wolves, Ravens and a New Purpose for Science. In: Moore, K & Nelson MP (eds.), Moral Ground: Our Obligation to the Future, Trinity University Press, San Antonio, TX, Pp 337-342.
Vucetich JA, RO Peterson, & MP Nelson. 2010. Will the future of Isle Royale wolves & moose always differ from our sense of their past? in The World of Wolves, new perspectives on ecology, behaviour & policy. (Eds. M Musiani, L Boitani & P Paquet) Univ Calgary Press, Pp 123-154.
In The Wolf’s Tooth, scientist and author Cristina Eisenberg explores the concept of “trophic cascades” and the role of top predators in regulating ecosystems. Her fascinating and wide-ranging work provides clear explanations of the science surrounding keystone predators and considers how this notion can help provide practical solutions for restoring ecosystem health and functioning.
His plan was to stay in Iowa, and maybe get a job counting ducks, or do a little farming. But events conspired to fling Carter Niemeyer westward and straight into the jaws of wolves. From his early years wrangling ornery federal trappers, eagles and grizzlies, to winning a skinning contest that paved the way for wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rockies, Carter Niemeyer reveals the wild and bumpy ride that turned a trapper - a killer - into a champion of wolves.
This non-fiction book is about a great mountain wilderness where wolves and their prey continue to live in a delicate, natural balance. Using a combination of narrative non-fiction and easy-to-follow essays, this book explores the natural history of the Yukon during the last 20,000 years. Part 1 - History - chronicles wolf evolution since the end of the ice age, including the great collapse of Beringia large mammals and the domination by caribou through the Holocene. Other chapters include the relation between ancient native people and wolves, and the importance of Jack London’s Yukon stories to our collective image of wolves as a symbol of wilderness. Other history chapters explore the relentless, but largely ineffective attempts to reduce wolves through bounties, poison and hunting through the 20th century. Part 2 - Understanding - describes the author’s original research into wolf relations to moose, caribou, Dall’s sheep, ravens, and grizzly bears. In the last chapter Hayes, who studied three Yukon wolf control projects, explains why broad-scale killing of wolves has only produced brief benefits for moose and caribou, and why the practice should end. Finally, the book raises questions about how we should use and conserve one of the largest remaining tracts of complete wilderness on the continent.
When three month old Alphie, a wolf pup of the Lamar Pack, woke up from a long nap, he discovered that he was alone. His pack had moved to their high country rendezvous at Opal Creek accidentally leaving him behind to face the wild valley on his own. He was lost and frightened. His tiny howls attracted a grizzly and a mountain lion. After facing many dangers during long days and longer nights, Alphie is rescued by an old wolf returning to the pack. Grandfather becomes Alphie's protector and teacher. Their meeting marks the beginning of a long friendship that weaves its way through all of the exciting adventures that Alphie experiences during his first year as a Yellowstone wolf pup. Alphie, a Yellowstone wolf pup is a verbal map of the northern range of Yellowstone National Park. Beautifully rendered sketches fill in the details. The story introduces young readers to this special wilderness and wild places in general. Wandering the Lamar Valley, with book in hand, a reader should be able to locate Druid Peak, the Ledge Trail, the rendezvous site, Jasper Bench, Chalcedony Creek, as well as other landmakers in Alphie's Territory.
What happens when an indigenous animal, missing for over seventy years, is restored to its natural habitat? Find out in this exciting book about the adventures of Chinook the wolf, Wapiti the elk and the hilarious raven Mochni. This stirring fictional chapter book makes learning about science and natural history fun for children and adults. Readers are drawn in by the challenge of searching for a hidden animal in every illustration. A cliff hanger at the end of each chapter makes this a real page turner. Running for Home is a book about restoring the wolf to Yellowstone National Park, returning this ecosystem to a more diverse and balanced habitat, but it is also a beautiful story of the circle of life.