I have retired and no longer posting updates. I highly recommend Dr. Nathan Varleys daily naturalist reports from Yellowstone at www.yellowstonereports.com Find out what wolf packs are active and viewable, bear activity and locations, any active carcasses, and other wildlife sighting reports.
3 / 7 / 2007
I have decided to end my wolf reports. It has become increasingly difficult to provide up to date reports with everything else that I have going on, not to mention the amount of people already posting reports and the same information, and who have the time to do so.
I am heading out on vacation for a couple of days, my first one ever. What does the bearman do for vacation? HA! I am heading to Green Bay, Wisconsin—Title Town USA of all places HA! The Green Bay Packers (12 NFL Championships, 3 Super Bowl Wins) are having a special Fan Fest where fans get to meet and speak with both current and retired players and coaching staff, as well as get autographs, tours of the famous stadium, field, Packer Hall of Fame, and the world renown locker room.
The Green Bay Packers are the only team in the NFL who do this sort of thing and that is because they are the only team in the NFL that is not owned by the team, but is owned by the fans.
I hope to see ya trailside this summer!
11 / 8 / 2006
Nothing to report this week. I decided to take some time off after the busy summer season. I’ve been spending most of this time getting ready for winter, chopping fire wood, winterizing the things that sit outside all winter and trying to adjust from my summer “sleep/wake” schedule to my normal winter schedule with my alarm going off at 2:30 AM.
I have also volunteered some time at the local animal shelter, walking dogs, doing tons of laundry, washing another ton of pet food bowls as well as fixing the things that need fixing. It’s a nice change of pace for me, and a really great group of employee’s and other volunteer’s to spend time with.
I will be back at work and in the park this next week, so check back for a report sometime at the end of the week. The weather has turned much colder and quite a bit of snow has fallen, so the wolf viewing should be pretty good.
Until next time, I’ll see ya trailside!
7 / 19 / 2006
The Hayden pack has been very active and viewable this summer in Hayden Valley. The pack dug a new den this spring which is not viewable to us but the pack has been making kills within view and spending quite a bit of time traveling around. The pack MAY continue to be visible all summer adding something special to my bear tours and full day park tours, not to mention relieving some of the pressure from the Northern Range “typical” wolf viewing areas, and allowing more visitors to view wolves.
The Agate Pack has also been very visible for the past month and many visitors have been watching them nearly everyday from pull-outs on top of Dunraven Pass. The pack is most viewable down in Antelope Creek.
This concludes my weekly/daily wolf updates. My summer season has started and backcountry bear viewing, full day park tours as well as hiking many miles of trails and spending time with around 80 really great junior high school kids, as well as many other smaller young adult groups will keep me deeper in the interior of the park and away from the daily wolf activities up in the Northern range until early Sept.
I really enjoyed this past winter season with many great and often exciting memories. New friendships established, and old ones rekindled. Many thanks to Rick McIntyre, Lauri, Emily, Ann, the Barton’s and all of the regular annual wolf viewers for helping make this a memorable season.
As always, I look forward to spending time deep in the interior of the park during the summer season and putting a few miles under my boots, as well as spending more time with “my grizzly bears”. However, my thoughts of the Northern Range, the new unknown pack, the Sloughs, and of course the Druid Peak pack will never be far from my mind.
Yellowstone is such an exciting park. You just never know what your going to see or what will happen around the “next bend of the trail”. Get out and enjoy your national parks!
Until next time, I’ll see ya trailside!
2 / 19 / 2006
This morning we started out at wrecker pull-out observing 7 Slough Creek members north of Moms Ridge. The Agates were still located at their kill site across from ElK Creek. Great signals from the Hellroaring group but no actual sightings.
We ended up at Blacktail at 8:30 AM with the Leopolds howling from north of north knoll and the Hellroaring group returning the howl from the east. One grey wolf with an obvious injured nose was observed climbing north knoll. This individual is collared but not working and is an unknown wolf at this point, but believed to be a male.
Seven Leopolds were observed north of the road just west of the “S” turn. On grey male attempted to mate with the alpha female and the alpha male rushed over chasing him off then mated with the alpha female, locking up for several minutes. The pack then bedded for the remainder of the morning. Rick McIntyre did observe two other wolves nearby, also bedded.
2 / 18 / 2006
Yesterday morning we started out with temperatures at minus 24 at Elk Creek looking for the Agate pack and located them north of Yancy’s Hole where they had made a kill the night before, but not very visible.
We then moved west to the upper Hellroaring lookout and searched for the Hellroaring group, picking up good signals but no visuals.
Moving west again we located 7 members of the Leopold pack north of the road. About an hour later things really started to happen in the western valley as two grey wolves were observed moving up hill and to the north, just west of the Leopolds. Driving west to the nearest pit toilet we encountered a collared grey and an uncollared black wolf just 50 feet or so off the road moving east. As this pair moved along the Blacktail drainage, they kept glancing to the south. Soon after, a group of 4 wolves came rushing down the hill chasing a grey wolf across the meadow, who then crossed the road as it escaped. A second pair of wolves were also then spotted just east of this activity and up hill and to the north of Blacktail ponds.
Several wolves were observed mating, as various pack chases, escapes, etc……all took place until about 11:00 AM. All told we observed 22 wolves this morning, most of which were within 100 yards of us at one point or another.
Another great wolf viewing morning, but a zoo like atmosphere has now started with numerous professional and semi pro photographers all hoping to get “that perfect, money shot”, as well as visitors with small disposable cameras also hoping to get a great shot, turning the road into a Wal-Mart parking lot where wolves are most viewable, regardless of pull-outs.
2 / 16 / 2006
The past couple of days have reportedly remained the same with the Leopold Pack being the most active and viewable pack in the Northern Range.
This morning we started out in the Lamar with only faint signals from the Druid Peak, and Slough Creek Packs. We then got word that the Leopold Pack was visible at Blacktail Plateau.
On arrival we observed the alpha male and female bedded on the south side of the road and south west of south knoll. Several subordinate members were on the north side of the road and scattered around the valley. The two alpha’s were observed mating on the hillside after they crossed the road to the north.
At about 9:00 AM a large dark collared grey male was observed in the western portion of the valley as the Leopolds howled, about 100 yards off the road. The alpha’s then moved east towards a kill site they had made two days ago near the Blacktail Drive area, but due to traffic and noise the pair refused to cross the road or come near. One uncollared grey subordinate female then moved back west again, crossing the road to the south right in front of us from the interpretive trail parking lot.
We then moved back west and had the large adult collared grey male observed earlier in the western valley cross the road right in front of us within a couple of yards, moving to the north/east. The clients I had with me were amazed at how large this wolf was. It’s one thing to see a large adult wolf from a distance, but to then see this individual right in front of us on the road really gave them a good look at just how large they can get.
This adult grey wolf then crossed and re-crossed the road several times, as well as howling in an attempt to locate the Leopold alpha’s as well as the female that is no doubt in heat.
Special care should be taken while driving this time of year. Many dispersals are now traveling the entire northern range in search of breeding partners and have only one thing in mind, and its not you in your car. Use pull-outs whenever possible to park and view from.
2 / 13 / 2006
This morning we picked up signals from a few of the Slough Creek pack but were never able to get a visual. No signals from Hellroaring, but many ravens, eagles, and other bird activity still hanging around the kill site from two days ago.
The Leopold Pack was viewable again today, but farther from the road and only for about an hour before they dropped into a drainage and disappeared from view. No signals from the Druid Peak pack.
2 / 12 / 2006
This morning we started out viewing the previous days battle scene and observed one adult grey wolf, probably from the Hellroaring group hanging around the area of the dead wolf. After about an hour, the grey finally moved off to the west and back towards Hellroaring creek.
Leopold Pack Fight © Kirk Fleischer 2006
At about 9:15 Am after moving farther west we encountered the Leopold Pack at Blacktail Plateau. We first observed a young grey female and a young black male out in the meadow just yards off the road. After a few minutes 3 adult Leopold members came trotting down the valley. As the main Leopold group came up on the two younger wolves, the black male began wagging its tail. As they came within feet, the main group suddenly attacked, knocking the black wolf to the ground biting it terribly. The grey female was also attacked but not as bad as she showed submissiveness to the main group.
Black Wolf © Kirk Fleischer 2006 (note blood from battle)
After a few minutes and much yelping, the black wolf was able to escape but with some very ugly looking wounds to its side, front leg, and rear thigh. The wound to its side was the most horrible with a large piece of skin and hair missing, the muscle exposed. He then crossed the road just yards from us moving to the south.
The main group finally made their way to the north and out of view. About 20 minutes later a grey collared wolf crossed the road from the south to the north and began following the main pack but kept its distance. This wolf had, had its own experience with the Leopolds earlier in the day and driven off.
As we left, and started making our way back to Mammoth, we spotted the young injured black wolf, who had obviously circled from the south and then crossed the road moving north again, also following the main Leopold pack. Its injuries obvious, and painful looking, however he showed no sign of pain. Obviously there is a female in heat and attracting young dispersal males from all over the valley, keeping the alpha male busy.
We are right in the midst of the annual mating season, and encounters or conflicts like this are common as alpha males and females protect their territories, and potential breeding partners.
2 / 11 / 2006
Cold temperatures the past four or five mornings with early morning temps around minus 3 to minus 8.
February 8’s viewing started out slow with only one report of a grey Druid member sighted near Pebble Creek. We then attempted to locate the Agate and Slough Creek packs but only weak radio collar signals were picked up and no sightings’s.
Right about the time that we were thinking that we would not have wolves to view, about 10:00 AM, we received word that the 4 member Druid Peak pack were just 50 yards off the road east of Soda Butte cone.
By the time we arrived, the pack had moved up hill away from the road about 1/2 mile where we were able to view them for about 2 hours before we headed back to Mammoth. On our way back, we encountered the Leopold pack on Blacktail Plateau, with one large adult grey member just yards off the road howling, steam rising from its mouth as it raised its head and called to its pack mates!
Another perfect example of wolf watching. Never give up! Right about the time you think it is never going to happen, it happens and your practically over-run with wolves at every corner. Patience usually pays off.
The Slough Creek pack encountered the Hellroaring group during the late afternoon north of Junction Butte on the western end of Little America and after a vicious battle, one grey male with the Hellroaring group was left dead in the meadow.
2 / 10 / 2006
February 10’s viewing was a bit more difficult. No signals were picked up from the Druid Peak pack. The Slough Creek pack had moved down into the Yellowstone River corridor and were not observed. Signals were picked up from the Leopold pack but were also not viewed.
The only wolves viewed this day were two grey members of the 8 member Hellroaring group, after I noticed raven and magpie activity about 1.3 miles distant and finally spotted what appeared to me to be a grey wolf curled up in the snow. After a few minutes of watching this object and allowing the other nearby viewers to convince me that I was looking at a rock, the wolf moved its head proving that I was correct all along. We then watched as it got up and moved west and joined another grey wolf, bedding once again.
Here is a perfect example of what to look for when trying to locate wolves, especially when they are at some distance. You are often not going to see a standing, or walking wolf. Watch the birds in the area. Ravens and other birds will follow wolves and wolf packs, knowing that they will make a kill sooner or later.
Listen to the Raven. He is never wrong! Allow the Raven to show you where the wolves are. 🙂
The video at left is of the Slough Creek pack encountering and looking over a group of 5 bull elk on February 4, 2006. It also shows typical predator-prey behavior, with wolves slowly walking up and looking over each individual. Looking for a weak, injured, or sick member.
The healthy bulls group together and stand their ground, indicating that they are healthy and not to be messed with.
The wolves, not finding a vulnerable individual, slowly continue on their journey. If they had noticed a weak or vulnerable member in this group, the wolves would have “keyed in” on this fact and the pack would singled it out and taken it down.
Opponents of the wolf reintroduction claim that wolves chase and weaken elk and other prey animals in the park by running them, and kill just for the fun of it. The video here shows what really happens and that wolves are unsuccessful more than they are successful, and generally go days or even weeks in between meals.
Yellowstone Wolf Pups
Information provided courtesy of Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project
Please note that this count is likely to include any pup mortalities not yet discovered
Total Wolves Reintroduced :
additionally 10 pups were brought in from Augusta, Mt-1996 = 64
Total Free-Ranging Packs: 11-13 + packs, or pairs
Wolves In Acclimation Pens: 0
Total Pups Observed During First Three Years
11; 6 litters 1995-96
64 during 1997
42 in 1998
61+ in 1999
includes mortalities not listed
Total Wolf Population Inside Park Borders: 12/24/05 113~ estimated
Total Northern Rockies population estimate 1/1/04 =747 wolves
Montana = 161
Wyoming = 240
Idaho = 346
1999 Final Yellowstone Pup Count
2000 Final Yellowstone Pup Count
2001 Final Yellowstone Pup Count
2002 Final Yellowstone Pup Count
2003 Final Yellowstone Pup Count
2004 Final Yellowstone Pup Count
(It has become very difficult to get accurate counts of new pups born each year due to the increase in wolves, packs of wolves, and the remote locations where these new packs den and occupy)
Note: The information below, including the wolf pack territory map is the most up-to-date data that is available. Information and data is supplied by the wolf recovery team once per year, but tends to be at least a year behind. For the most part, the wolf territories remain about the same___+/-, and are always fluctuating.
Radio Collared Wolves — 2003/04
In 2003, the capture and collaring of wolves was split into two time periods.
Twenty-one wolves were captured in January and February, and another 17 in November. The November capture was the earliest in the winter that the team had ever attempted, and it was very successful.
Simply getting an early start helped considerably in reducing the strain of getting all the capture work done in just two months. Visitor impacts from low level helicopter flights were minimized because the interior of the park is closed at this time.
Weights ranged from 70 pounds (female pup in Leopold Pack) to 130 pounds (two males, one from Swan Lake and the other from Mollie’s Pack).
At the end of 2003, 53 (30%) of the 174 wolves that use YNP were radio collared.
Yellowstone Wolves Receive Handouts
Reports of visitors giving handouts or food to wolves and coyotes in Yellowstone park have occurred off and on over the years. Visitors were reportedly observed feeding the Hayden Pack in 2007 at Canyon, and the wolf recovery team was forced to conduct some adverse behavior modifications on the pack—firing rubber bullets.
Anyone observing someone feed or leave food for a wolf, coyote or any other animal in the park is encouraged to record the license plate and description of the vehicle, along with the time and location and report the incident to the nearest park ranger.
In the past, coyotes have been fed by visitors, only to then attack cross country skiers and sometimes visitors standing near the roadway after they became habituated to humans and learn that humans often have food with them. Wolves could do the same thing, and they also will loose any fear they have of humans and leave the park placing them in even greater danger.
PLEASE DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE!
If a wolf or coyote comes in close to the road and appears to be begging or looking for food, it is recommended that you not stop. Just drive on by, they will live a lot longer if we do so.
Wolf Pack Locations in Yellowstone National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Past News Articles
Predation Payments To Ranchers
Alpha Male Number 8 Found Dead
Female #217 Found Dead, 1/23/04
The Last Remaining Released Wolf Dead
Druid Alpha Male, #21 Missing, Found Dead
Bears, not wolves killing more elk calves–research data 2004
Wolf Numbers Decline and elk getting older–December 2005