As of August 2000, about 115-120 wolves inhabit the Yellowstone ecosystem. Approximately eighty-three known wolf mortalities have occurred in the ecosystem since wolf restoration began six years ago. There are about fourteen packs or groups in the ecosystem, most of which inhabit territories within the Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park. There are currently about eleven breeding pairs in the ecosystem.
SUMMARY OF WOLF DENNING IN GYA AS OF AUGUST 2000
The Rose Creek Pack resides between the area of Hellroaring Creek and Slough Creek in Yellowstone’s Northern Range. A disperser from this pack is now alpha male of the Druid Peak Pack. Another male disperser from this pack paired with a female formerly of the Druid Peak Pack; the two are being referred to as the Sunlight Basin Pack.
The Leopold Pack named after the late biologist Aldo Leopold, who first proposed wolf restoration to the park, was the first naturally forming pack in the ecosystem in six decades. The founders were a female originally penned and released at Rose Creek and a young male originally released from the Crystal Creek pen. The pair produced a litter of three pups in 1996, five pups in both 1997 and 1998, and at least four pups in 1999. The pack makes their home in the Blacktail Deer Plateau area in the Northern Range of Yellowstone.
The Crystal Creek Pack was the most visible group of wolves in 1995, as they then dominated territory in the Lamar Valley. Since being displaced southward by the Druid Peak Pack after an interpack interaction killed their original alpha male, they have centered their activity in Pelican Valley, just north of Yellowstone Lake.
The Soda Butte Pack started out with five pack members released in 1995. In 1996, the pack was moved south of Yellowstone Lake. The original alpha male of the pack died of natural causes near Heart Lake in March 1997. The Soda Butte Pack has been located moving between southern Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton National Park.
The Druid Peak Pack was released from the Rose Creek pen after acclimation in 1996. It is this pack of wolves which has tested the boundaries of their new home in the Lamar Valley since their release and been involved in several interpack interactions. Since 1997, the Druid Peak Pack has excited park visitors by their frequent presence within the range of spotting scopes. The pack currently travels between Lamar Valley and south of the Mirror Plateau in Yellowstone Park.
The Chief Joseph Pack currently inhabits the northwest portion of Yellowstone National Park.
The Sheep Mountain Pack will be released back in to the wilderness area just north of Yellowstone Park sometime in October 2000. They have been part of an adverse conditioning experiment conducted by the Fish & Wildlife Service and the Turner Endangered Species Fund which is attempting to help reduce the pack’s encounters with domestic livestock.
The Nez Perce Pack currently inhabits the west central area of Yellowstone Park.
The Washakie Pack was named after the region they were roaming southeast of Yellowstone Park. Because this pack has lost both alphas due to livestock depredation, the remaining members have separated and are probably traveling the ecosystem as loners.
The Teton Pack has been inhabiting the areas of Teton National Park and the Teton Wilderness. Unfortunately, the alpha male of this pack was hit a vehicle during 1999 which has left the female without a mate.
The Gros Ventre Pack, currently inhabit areas in Teton National Park.
Famous wolf #009F, now named the Beartooth Pack, is no longer on her own but with an unknown male. She probably denned during the 2000 denning season, although no pups have been seen.
A dispersing female from the Rose Creek Pack has also been located with an unknown male and they have produced at least five pups during the 2000 denning season. This pack has been named the Absorka Pack.
Wolf #152F, a disperser from the Leopold Pack, has found a mate and produced pups during 2000. This pack currently resides in the north-central portion of Yellowstone. This pack has not yet been named.
Wolf #115F, a disperser from the Chief Joseph Pack, has been located in Madison Valley area west of Yellowstone. She has also produced pups during 2000. This pack has not yet been named.
During the Wolf Project’s collaring operation during January 2000, fourteen wolves were collared in 5 packs in Yellowstone National Park. Currently, 51 wolves, or about 40% of the population, are collared in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
In December 1997, U.S. District Court Judge William Downes ruled that wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone and central Idaho violated the Endangered Species Act because of lack of geographic separation from reintroduction areas (in which special rules for wolf management apply) threatened fully protected wolves that had naturally re-colonized northwestern Montana. He ordered the removal of reintroduced wolves and their offspring from the Yellowstone and central Idaho experimental population areas, but immediately stayed his order pending appeal. Acting upon a request from the Department of the Interior, the Justice Department filed an appeal to the United States Tenth Circuit Court on February 5, 1998. On February 5, 1998 a Notice of Appeal was filed by the Justice Department. On July 29, 1999, a panel of three judges heard arguments at the Tenth U.S. District Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado. The Tenth District Court made a final decision on the case on January 13, 2000 stating that the wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho was legal.
* Information on this page provided by the NPS.