The Druid Peak Pack, Gone But Not Forgotten….

I originally posted this in September 2009, just as the wolf hunts were starting. It’s the story of Yellowstone’s Druid Peak Pack, who no longer exist, told by Bob Landis, the famous wildlife photographer.

As of January 09, there were still thirteen members of the pack.Bob Landis talks about the making of “In the Valley of the Wolves”, and the Druids, who were very special to him.

I miss the Druids and think of them often. It’s hard to believe they’re gone. Their bloodline lives on, which gives some comfort but there will never be another wolf pack as iconic as the Druids. I wanted to repost this in their memory.

September 26, 2009

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In the Valley of the Wolves
The Druid Wolf Pack Story

The original five members of the Druid Peak pack — #38 and #39, the alpha male and female, and female pups #40, #41, and #42 — were captured near Fort St. John in British Columbia and relocated to Yellowstone’s acclimation pens before being released in April 1996 in the Park’s scenic Lamar Valley. The nearly treeless Lamar Valley is often considered Yellowstone’s most prized hunting grounds, and the most visible wolf territory in the Park.

On this public stage, the Druids displayed early signs of the upheaval and drama that would eventually come to characterize the group. During that first year in Yellowstone, a yearling male, #31, dispersed from the nearby Chief Joseph pack and joined the group, while alpha female #39 left the pack completely to become a lone wolf — perhaps driven off by #40, her own ruthless daughter, who began a terrible reign as the pack’s alpha female.

In 1997, pups were born to #41 and #42, the subordinate females, but none to the aggressive alpha female, #40. Lone wolf #39 reunited with the pack briefly, then left once again in November — this time with her daughter, #41 (who also may have been driven off by #40). The pack’s two males, #31 and #38 were shot and killed in December, setting the stage for the dominance of a new male, #21, dispersed from the Rose Creek Pack. By the end of 1998, the Lamar Valley Druids had seven members, and a growing reputation for conflict. The constant harassment of beta female #42 by her sister, #40, earned #42 the nickname “Cinderella” by the Yellowstone researchers. The put-upon Cinderella created a den and gave birth to pups in 1998, but none survived; the following year #40 attacked #42 in her den, and she again produced no offspring.


Casanova

Cinderella finally reached the ball in 2000, after a violent turn of events that put her at the head of the pack. She and the other female members of the pack, perhaps tired of #40’s iron-pawed leadership, turned on the alpha female, and killed her. At least three litters were born to the liberated females; 20 of the 21 survived. The Druids, 27 strong, became the largest pack in Yellowstone. In 2001, another 10 pups were added to the group, and the 37-member Druid pack became perhaps the largest wolf pack ever documented.

Like all dynasties, however, the Druids were destined for a fall. In 2002, the massive pack reached critical mass, and splintered. Three new packs, the Agate Creek, Geode Creek, and Slough Creek packs, were created, each anchored by a former Druid female born at the same den in Lamar Valley in 1997. The Druids were left with 11 members by 2002’s end, including the matriarch, Cinderella, and the long-time alpha male, #21. The pack expanded to 17 members by the end of 2003, aided by the arrival of a lone black male, #302, formerly of the Leopold pack. #302 may have fathered all of the pups not born to the alpha female. To wolf researchers, he was “Casanova” — a lover, not a fighter, who wooed the females in the group while staying appropriately submissive to alpha male, #21.

In 2004, the Druids once again suffered terrible losses; longtime alpha female #42 was killed by members of a rival pack, and the aging patriarch was found dead in the summer. At the same time, however, the neighboring Slough Creek pack began to spend more time on the northwestern boundary of Druid territory. Their incursions into Druid turf culminated in a decisive battle in 2005 that ousted the formerly dominant Druid wolves from the Lamar Valley. Two adult female Druids died that year — one killed by the Sloughs — and no pups survived. The pack was reduced to just four members, and looked to be nearing its end.

In true soap opera fashion, however, the Druids’ epic tale does not conclude with their exile. In 2006, from their new location in an area called Cache Creek, aided by Casanova and #480, the new alpha male, the pack began to rebuild. Both of the pack’s adult females successfully bred, producing eight surviving pups. The Druids pushed back against the Slough Creek pack — which suffered its own losses earlier in the year after a run-in with an unknown pack from the north — and reclaimed their traditional territory in the Soda Butte and Lamar Valleys; six pups were born there in 2007. The Druids, for now, are home.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/in-the-valley-of-the-wolves/the-druid-wolf-pack-story/209/

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In The Valley of the Wolves

(click to watch the full episode)

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/in-the-valley-of-the-wolves/video-full-episode/4678/

Posted in: Yellowstone wolves

Tags: Druid Peak Pack, Bob Landis, Lamar Valley, Slough Creek, iconic wolves

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Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 3:09 am  Comments (19)  

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19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yes, always rembered.Never forgotten. For the Wild ones, For the Wolves.

    Like

    • Sorry for my spelling of “remember”, it was a long day yesterday with two tornado warnings,one in the daylight hours and the other at night.

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      • I hope all is well where you are tonight. We had a similar experience with our weather here tonight, 3 tornado warnings and a watch, all have expired without consequence in my area, but not so lucky for others further north. Here only strong storms and wind with a few heavy downpours. Blessings Rita.

        Like

      • Stay safe Rita,my thoughts are with you.

        For the wolves, For the wild ones,
        Nabeki

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    • I do miss them Rita. And the Park let them slip away. That’s the hardest to accept.

      For the Druids, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like

  2. A spectacular tribute Nabeki! “In The Valley of Wolves” was the consummate dance of nature, stalwart souls every single creature. I had never seen this particular video and I truly cherished every moment of it, the good and the bad times, for they are both integral workings of the cycle of nature. Thank you for sharing it.

    The Druid Pack was an inspiration, if only we would maintain the integrity of our government with the same “perseverance and devotion” as the Druids ran their pack, and if only we had a leader like Old #21, or Casanova, we would definitely rise above adversity and no longer be the mockery of democracy ( Demockracy) that we are. Just to watch the wolves be simply wolves, as they were intended…it was almost like being one of the pack. Magnificent animals, this video perfectly compliments ALL the reasons we why we must persist. As the narrator so poignantly stated: “ nothing worth having is easy to hold” I pray that as wolf advocates, we are as successful in our reemergence as a pack as the Druids were. HOOOOOOOWLS!!!!!

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    • WL…Bob Landis is an amazing filmaker and he did the Druids proud. I can’t thank him enough for documenting their lives so we can continue to remember their greatness. It’s the Druids who led the way.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like

  3. I was informed two days ago that The Bradford Exchange has completed their marketing test and will be using seven of my Yellowstone wolf photos on a set of five collector plates. Three of Yellowstone’s wolf packs: the Canyons, Mollie’s and the Haydens will be represented. This will be the first time they have ever used wildlife photos on any of their collector plates. I am not sure how soon the plates will be available. I will keep you posted.

    Most of my photos of the Druids were too distant or looked bad because of the mange infection to be considered for use on the plates.

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    • Congratulations Larry, they couldn’t have picked a more beautiful subject as wolves! Keep us updated.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like

    • Congratulations,Larry!!You take wonduful wild life photos for I have enjoyed them all.

      Like

    • Excellent Larry, the Bradford Exchange couldn’t have picked a more beautiful image then the wolf. You must be elated that your pictures were picked to represent Yellowstone wolves. Looking forward to them being available. Congrats again Larry!!

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like

  4. The lose of Druid is a true tragedy of the wolf world

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    • It was a great tragedy and think one that could have been prevented. They were the most iconic wolf pack in the world. The biologists in the park should have treated their mange with Ivermectin. They did it in Canada and they also treated wild leopards in Africa for mange so their was no reason to allow the Druids to slip away. So sad.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like

  5. I Will always remember this pack i still watching the documentary (In The Valley Of Wolfs) and i will never stop i hope i dreaming some day Wolfs with Druid blood will remake this pack and own again the Lamar Valley…

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    • I think of the Druids often Vasileios. It was such a loss.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like

  6. BREAKING NEWS:
    Late Monday afternoon, following the interview with Doug Smith, Wolf Project technician Rick McIntyre spotted two uncollared Druid Peak Pack wolves—both showing signs of mange—on Yellowstone’s Hellroaring slope. Without collars, these wolves will be difficult for researchers to track, as the fate of the Druid Peak Pack remains unknown.

    http://www.ypf.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5423

    Like

    • I think Aphaythea they’re talking about the little female that was shot to death in Butte, riddled with mange, she left the park, alone and suffering. Those were her last days on this earth. They should have treated the mange. The Canadians have done it to their wolves and leopards in Africa have been darted wtih Ivermectin to cure mange. It’s a very easy thing to do. I think the park biologists failed the Druids. They handle them all the time collaring them so they can’t say they didn’t want to handle them. Mange was introduced into Montana in the early 1900′s for the purpose of killing off wolves.

      N.

      Like

  7. So there gone…One of the most famous wolf packs have died…
    It’s something really sad for a pack like this, I cannot believe it actually happened. It’s the stupid humans for collaring that wolf, making it go to Butte and getting shot by a rancher, it’s also humans fault animals are dying out..

    Druid Peak pack was just an amazing pack though, I wish they never died out and always wished that others would know one of the best wolf packs in Yellowstone National Park, which had one of the biggest hunting territory.

    You’ll always live on, Druid Peak pack,
    Druid Peak pack was a legendary pack,
    Which will ALWAYS be remembered ALWAYS
    As one of the best
    DRUID PEAK PACK LIVES ON!!!!

    Like

    • I grieve with you Steve. This is a huge sore spot for me because the park could have easily treated the mange that Druids were plagued with and what weakened and eventually killed them off, some too weak to defend themselves from other wolves.

      The Joberts, who are famous photographers of big cats in Africa, came across mange in the leopards they were filming. They chose to do something about it and loaded up a syringe with Ivermectin and darted the Leopard family. Within just a few weeks the leopards were healed.

      Montana introduced mange into the wolf population over a hundred years ago and it’s their responsibility to treat it. The biologists in Yellowstone are always handling the wolves for collaring, so there was no excuse not to treat the mange of the most iconic wolf pack in the world. The last Druid, the little female, was thin, hungry and alone when she left the park for Butte, where she was shot and killed. It is baffling to me why they let the Druids slip away like that. I can’t imagine that Bob Landis, who filmed the Druids so often, wouldn’t have been very upset about their fateful demise.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like


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