Looking Back: Remembering The Sage Creek Pack..

July 23, 2014

This week I’m re-posting tributes to fallen wolves and wolf packs, some killed before the 2009 delisting, like the 27 member strong Hog Heaven Pack, slaughtered in 2008 by Wildlife Services, outside of Kalispell, Montana.  It makes no difference to me whether they are famous park wolves or wolves who remain faceless and nameless, they are all equal in my eyes and I love them. To think of the thousands who’ve died  breaks my heart. I can’t help them now but I can honor them through remembrance. Sleep well beautiful souls.

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The Sage Creek Pack was eliminated by aerial gunners in 2009.  It was a huge loss. Yellowstone wolves are genetically isolated, the  Sage Creek Pack could have provided them with important genetics but that means nothing to the wolf killers. Wildlife Services was aerial gunning wolves even as the first wolf hunt was taking place outside the park, which decimated the famed Cottonwood pack.

“The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.”

Sage Creek Pack Wiped Out By Aerial Gunners in Montana

October 9, 2012

Aerial gunners wiped out the remaining four members of the Sage Creek Pack, which will serve to further genetically isolate Yellowstone’s wolves. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a statement concerning this outrageous event. This pack was originally targeted because it killed ONE SHEEP!!

“The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho”

It always comes back to grazing livestock on public lands and who pays the price? The Wolf!

Montana FWP recently closed the backcountry area WMU-3 (which encompasses the wilderness outside of Yellowstone) in part due to the loss of nine wolves in that area, including the Cottonwood Pack. This pack was part of ongoing research on Yellowstone’s famous wolves. The hunts eliminated the pack because buffer zones were not in place for the wolves, who can’t read boundary signs. Their only crime was leaving the protection of the park. So that’s two wolf packs gone in a matter of weeks. One lost to hunters and the other to FWP aerial gunners.

For Immediate Release, October 9, 2009

Aerial Gunning of Wolf Pack in Montana Isolates Yellowstone Wolves, Undermines Recovery

SILVER CITY, N.M.— This week’s aerial gunning of the last four members of the Sage Creek wolf pack in southwestern Montana contributes to the genetic isolation of wolves in Yellowstone National Park – even as, on Thursday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission suspended the public wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone in order not to isolate the national park’s wolves.

Said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity: “We are saddened by the loss of the Sage Creek Pack. Suspending the permitted wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone will not be enough to save these animals as long as the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to gun down entire packs from the air.”

The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho.

In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project sued the sheep station for its failure to disclose the impacts of, and analyze alternatives to, its operations, which has occurred in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The sheep station settled the lawsuit with an agreement to disclose and analyze and to decide its future via a public process.

“The USDA Sheep Experiment Station is undermining gray-wolf recovery and should be shut down,” said Robinson.

Genetic isolation of the Yellowstone wolves, which may be exacerbated through the federal killing of the Sage Creek Pack, is at issue in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies seeking to place wolves back on the endangered species list after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed them from the list this spring. Such genetic isolation was part of what led a federal court, in July 2008, to order the relisting of wolves after a previous delisting action.

The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.

A 1994 environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone and central Idaho identified genetic exchange between sub-populations as key to wolf recovery.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2009/wolves-10-09-2009.html

Top photo: kewlwallpapersdotcom

Photo courtesy James Balog/www.goagro.org

Categories posted in: aerial gunning of wolves, biodiversity, Wolf Wars, Yellowstone Wolves

Tags: wolves or livestock, aerial gunning of wolves, wolf intolerance, Sage Creek Pack, genetic diversity loss

Remembering Yellowstone’s Cottonwood Pack….

yellowstones 527

Photo: Wolf 527, killed on Buffalo Plateau on Oct. 3. Credit: Dan Stahler / National Parks Service

July 21, 2014

There was great sadness over the killing of the 06 Female, one of the most famous wolves ever to grace Yellowstone National  Park. But long before her untimely death, another equally famous Yellowstone wolf met the same fate years earlier.  527f, the alpha female of Yellowstone’s Cottonwood Pack, was gunned down outside the park by a hunter’s bullet along with her equally famous daughter and mate. This happened mere months after the Obama administration removed ESA protections for wolves and handed them over to hostile state governments, in Montana and Idaho.
I want to pay tribute to these amazing wolves and others like them, as the tragedy of Obama’s failed policies continue to wreak havoc on wolves and other wildlife.
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October 25, 2009

 Yellowstone’s famous Cottonwood pack Alpha female, 527, fell to  a hunter’s bullet outside the park at the beginning of Montana’s wolf hunt

Montana wolf hunt is stalked by controversy

The demise of a much-studied pack raises questions about lifting the hunting ban in areas bordering Yellowstone park.

October 25, 2009|Kim Murphy

GARDINER, MONT. — Wolf 527 was a survivor. She lived through a rival pack’s crippling 12-day siege of her den. When another pair of wolves laid down stakes in her territory, she killed the mother and picked off the pups while the invader’s mate howled nearby in frustration and fury.

She was not a charmer. But successful wolves are not known for their geniality. She was large and black and wary — and cruel when she needed to be. As the alpha female of the Cottonwood Creek pack, she also was equipped with a radio collar so wildlife biologists could track her movements, making her one of Yellowstone National Park’s best-known wolves.

 Then she ventured outside the park boundaries.

Wolf 527 was killed Oct. 3 by a hunter on Buffalo Plateau north of Yellowstone, less than three weeks into Montana’s back country elk season. Wolves often stalk elk outside the park and are attracted by entrails the hunters leave behind. But this year, the elk season coincided with the opening of the state’s first wolf hunt in modern times.

“She was a genius wolf in her tactics,” said Laurie Lyman, a former San Diego County teacher who has spent the last five years tracking the recovery of the endangered gray wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995. “Her strategies were just unbelievable. She knew how to survive anything, but she didn’t know how to survive a man with a gun.”

Park officials believe four of the Cottonwood pack’s 10 wolves — including 527′s mate, the alpha male, and her daughter — died during those first weeks, in effect ending research into one of the park’s most important study groups.

“Whether the pack exists anymore or not, to us the pack is gone,” said Doug Smith, the biologist in charge of the Yellowstone reintroduction program that helped bring wolves back from the brink of extinction in the Northern Rockies. Cottonwood “was a key pack on the northern range,” he said, giving researchers a window into the existence of animals that had little or no interaction with humans.

State wildlife officials, caught off guard by the ease with which the wolves were cut down, called off the backcountry hunt along a section of Yellowstone’s northern boundary for the rest of the year.

But the general wolf hunting season opens today throughout much of the rest of Montana, including other areas bordering the 3,468-square-mile park. Wildlife advocates have sought, so far unsuccessfully, a buffer zone to protect Yellowstone’s storied wolf packs.

With more than 1,600 wolves now in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, state officials are allowing hunters this year to take up to 75 in Montana and 220 in Idaho. Federal protections remain in Wyoming.

“We’ve got quite a number of other border packs. So people need to decide how hunting’s going to occur on the park boundaries,” Smith said. “Whose wolves are they? Are they national wolves? Montana wolves? And we have to decide what is the value of our research on wolf populations that are not affected by people.”

Read more: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/25/nation/na-wolf-hunt25

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Photo: Courtesy Dan Stahler / National Parks Service

Categories posted in: Yellowstone wolves, Wolf Wars

Tags: Montana wolf hunt, Yellowstone wolves, wolf myths, 06 Female, Lamar Canyon Pack,  Cottonwood Pack, 527f, hunters kill famous Yellowstone wolves

Will You?

This post is dedicated to all wolves who’ve suffered and continue to suffer brutal, senseless deaths in the name of blood sport and agribusiness.

The brutal war against America’s wolves wages on?

Will you be silent?

Will you fight for them?

Will you allow this to continue?

Will you organize in your hometown?

Will you hold a protest?

Will you work to end public land grazing?

Will you write letters to the editor?

Will you write to the Infamous 81 US Senators  who voted to delist wolves in the Northern Rockies via budget rider?

Will you tell those Senators you WILL NOT VOTE FOR THEM on November 6 because of their betrayal? 

Will you boycott all wolf states that hold trophy hunts or kill wolves for agribusiness?

Will you boycott Yellowstone National Park to send Wyoming a message?

Will you spread this message to everyone you know?

Will you be a true Wolf Warrior?

Will you?

Minnesota

Minnesota: Court rejects bid to block wolf hunt

Associated Press
Posted:   10/10/2012 12:01:00 AM CDT
Updated:   10/10/2012 07:26:03 PM CDT
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_21741958/court-rejects-bid-block-minn-wolf-hunt
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Trapped doomed wolf

Wisconsin

Wolf hunt to start Monday

Updated: Thursday, 11 Oct 2012, 5:53 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 11 Oct 2012, 5:53 PM CDT

http://www.fox11online.com/dpp/news/local/green_bay/wolf-hunt-to-start-monday

Hearing on use of dogs in wolf hunt will be Dec. 20

By Paul A. Smith of the Journal Sentinel
Oct. 6, 2012

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/outdoors/hearing-on-use-of-dogs-in-wolf-hunt-will-be-dec-20-2q74b6b-172979611.html

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Wisconsin and Minnesota

Wisconsin, Minnesota ready for first wolf hunts

By STEVE KARNOWSKI and TODD RICHMOND | Associated Press – Wed, Oct 10, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/wisconsin-minnesota-ready-first-wolf-hunts-175306321.html

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Stand up for wolves! This photo made the Los Angeles Times! (Mato Woksabe)

Michigan

Michigan State Representative Proposes Wolf Hunt

by Outdoor Hub Reporters on August 21, 2012

submitted by: Agnieszka Spieszny

http://www.outdoorhub.com/news/michigan-state-representative-proposes-wolf-hunt/

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Fox Mountain wolf pups 2008 (Mexican Wolf Inter-agency Field Team)

New Mexico

Wanted Mexican gray wolf on the run in NM captured

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS Associated Press
Updated:   10/10/2012 07:14:31 PM MDT
http://www.alamogordonews.com/ci_21747896/gov-martinez-relocate-mexican-gray-wolf-pack

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Gov. Martinez: Relocate Mexican gray wolf pack

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS Associated Press
Posted:   10/11/2012 03:05:16 AM MDT
http://www.alamogordonews.com/ci_21747896/gov-martinez-relocate-mexican-gray-wolf-pack
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This is the hate wolves face

Montana

On the hunt in wolf country: Expanded Montana season begins Monday

7:13 AM, Oct 11, 2012

 http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20121011/LIFESTYLE05/310110010/On-hunt-wolf-country-Expanded-Montana-season-begins-Monday

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Wolf trapped waiting to die

Idaho

Idaho’s wolf hunt season now open all year

By Kimberlee Kruesi

The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho) staff

Sun, 07/22/2012 – 8:23am

http://www.standard.net/stories/2012/07/22/idaho-s-wolf-hunt-season-now-open-all-year

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Senseless Slaughter

Wyoming

Open Season in Wyoming Threatens Wolf Recovery

08 OCTOBER 2012, 8:56 AM

http://earthjustice.org/blog/2012-october/open-season-in-wyoming-threatens-wolf-recovery

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USFWS

Feds opt not to extend special protection to Mexican gray wolf

Posted Oct 11, 2012, 11:37 pm

Cale OttensCronkite News Service

http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/101112_mexican_gray_wolf/feds-opt-not-extend-special-protection-mexican-gray-wolf/

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Wedge Pack alpha male being collared, the collar allowed sharpshooters to find and kill his pack .  Then they shot and killed him.

Washington

Killing entire wolf pack is in nobody’s best interests

Published: October 12, 2012

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/10/12/2725979/killing-entire-wolf-pack-is-in.html
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Oregon Weneha wolf killed by poacher

Oregon 

Court Stays Execution of Two Oregon Wolves

SALEM, ORE Oct 06, 2011

http://www.oregonwild.org/about/press-room/press-releases/court-stays-execution-of-two-oregon-wolves/?searchterm=imnaha

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California

Journey In California, The First Wolf  Confirmed In The State Since the 1920’s

And then there’s Journey (OR-7). The One Bright Spot In This Miserable War On America’s Wolves

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Oregon Wild Talks Wolves On AM Northwest

Wildlife and Wildlands Advocate Rob Klavins stopped by KATU-TV’s AM Northwest to talk about Journey and Oregon’s wolves.

http://www.oregonwild.org/about/press-room/press-releases/oregon-wild-talks-wolves-on-am-northwest

Calif. agrees to study protections for gray wolf

JASON DEAREN, Associated Press
Updated 5:35 p.m., Wednesday, October 3, 2012

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Calif-agrees-to-study-protections-for-gray-wolf-3917467.php#ixzz29AmZ5vLU

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Photos: Photobucket, USFWS, ODFW, Wolf Wallpaper, Flickr Commons

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Idaho wolves, Montana wolves, Wyoming wolves, Minnesota wolves, Wisconsin Wolves, Michigan wolves, Oregon wolves, Washington wolves, California wolf

Tags: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Mexican gray wolf, Fox Mountain alpha captured, Fox Mountain pack, Wenaha Pack wolf poached,  wolf trapping torture,  OR-7, retire grazing leases, stop killing wolves, Wedge Pack gone, Wyoming predator zone, boycott wolf killing states, Imnaha Pack

Wild Mexican Gray Wolf Pups (USFWS)

Remember The Druids..

June 14, 2012

They are gone, the most famous wolf pack to roam Yellowstone National Park, brought down by the mange mite, which was introduced by the state of Montana in the early 1900’s, to decimate wolves.  Almost a century later they claimed the once mighty Druids.

 The Druid Peak Pack  IS the story of  wolf reintroduction and sadly their brother wolves, outside the park, are being hunted and persecuted. The very purpose of wolf reintroduction was to restore these magnificent animals to their rightful home, after they were exterminated in all but small pockets living in Minnesota. Almost every wolf in the lower 48 was gone by the 1930’s.

The ESA was signed by President Nixon in 1973, giving wolves the protection they needed to make a comeback.  Slowly, in the late seventies/ early eighties wolves returned to Northwest Montana and Glacier National Park.  After a protracted battle wolves were reintroduced to their former habitat in Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho in 1995, 1996. We were all ecstatic. The great canine was back.

Sadly the loss of the Druids is a metaphor for their wolf brothers who are being subjected to brutal state management, after the Obama administration removed their Endangered Species Protections, twice in three years, with the help of the US Senate. Wolves were sold out for Jon Tester’s Senate seat, so Democrats could hold onto their majority in the Senate. If that wasn’t bad enough the dreaded wolf delisting/budget rider included the clause  “no judicial review”. Because of that betrayal wolves  have literally no protections and are at the mercy of their enemies, state management.

We can’t  allow the mistakes of the past to become the reality of the present. Wolves must be relisted, their ESA protections restored,  before they too will go the way of the once powerful and beloved Druids.

Please sign the petition on the right side bar.

RELIST WOLVES!!

gray wolf

Yellowstone National Park, Collared Druid

Video: Courtesy YouTube BBC Documentary

Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Endangered Species Act, Yellowstone Wolves

Tags: Druid Peak Pack, ESA, President Nixon, gray wolf

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 5:23 am  Comments (18)  

Looking Back: Remembering The Sage Creek Pack..

May 27, 2012

The Sage Creek Pack was eliminated by aerial gunners in 2009.  It was a huge loss. Yellowstone wolves are genetically isolated, the  Sage Creek Pack could have provided them with important genetics but that means nothing to the wolf killers. Wildlife Services was aerial gunning wolves even as the first wolf hunt was taking place outside the park, which decimated the famed Cottonwood pack.

“The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.”

Sage Creek Pack Wiped Out By Aerial Gunners in Montana

October 9, 2012

Aerial gunners wiped out the remaining four members of the Sage Creek Pack, which will serve to further genetically isolate Yellowstone’s wolves. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a statement concerning this outrageous event. This pack was originally targeted because it killed ONE SHEEP!!

“The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho”

It always comes back to grazing livestock on public lands and who pays the price? The Wolf!

Montana FWP recently closed the backcountry area WMU-3 (which encompasses the wilderness outside of Yellowstone) in part due to the loss of nine wolves in that area, including the Cottonwood Pack. This pack was part of ongoing research on Yellowstone’s famous wolves. The hunts eliminated the pack because buffer zones were not in place for the wolves, who can’t read boundary signs. Their only crime was leaving the protection of the park. So that’s two wolf packs gone in a matter of weeks. One lost to hunters and the other to FWP aerial gunners.

For Immediate Release, October 9, 2009

Aerial Gunning of Wolf Pack in Montana Isolates Yellowstone Wolves, Undermines Recovery

SILVER CITY, N.M.— This week’s aerial gunning of the last four members of the Sage Creek wolf pack in southwestern Montana contributes to the genetic isolation of wolves in Yellowstone National Park – even as, on Thursday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission suspended the public wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone in order not to isolate the national park’s wolves.

Said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity: “We are saddened by the loss of the Sage Creek Pack. Suspending the permitted wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone will not be enough to save these animals as long as the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to gun down entire packs from the air.”

The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho.

In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project sued the sheep station for its failure to disclose the impacts of, and analyze alternatives to, its operations, which has occurred in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The sheep station settled the lawsuit with an agreement to disclose and analyze and to decide its future via a public process.

“The USDA Sheep Experiment Station is undermining gray-wolf recovery and should be shut down,” said Robinson.

Genetic isolation of the Yellowstone wolves, which may be exacerbated through the federal killing of the Sage Creek Pack, is at issue in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies seeking to place wolves back on the endangered species list after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed them from the list this spring. Such genetic isolation was part of what led a federal court, in July 2008, to order the relisting of wolves after a previous delisting action.

The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.

A 1994 environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone and central Idaho identified genetic exchange between sub-populations as key to wolf recovery.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2009/wolves-10-09-2009.html

Top photo: kewlwallpapersdotcom

Photo courtesy James Balog/www.goagro.org

Categories posted in: aerial gunning of wolves, biodiversity, Wolf Wars, Yellowstone Wolves

Tags: wolves or livestock, aerial gunning of wolves, wolf intolerance

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

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

The Big Bad Wolf Makes Good:The Yellowstone Success Story and Those Who Want to Kill It

This amazing piece was written by Chip Ward and is a must read!! It was reprinted on Truthout.com.

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The Big Bad Wolf Makes Good: The Yellowstone Success Story and Those Who Want to Kill It

Tuesday 28 September 2010

by: Chip Ward  |  TomDispatch | Op-Ed

At long last, good news. Fifteen years have passed since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and the results are in. The controversial experiment has been a stellar success. The Big Bad Wolf is back and in this modern version of the old story, all that huffing and puffing has been good for the land and the creatures that live on it. Biggie, it turns out, got a bum rap.

The success of the Yellowstone project is the kind of good news we long for in this era of oil spills, monster storms, massive flooding, crushing heat waves, and bleaching corals. For once, a branch of our federal government, the Department of the Interior, saw something broken and actually fixed it. In a nutshell: conservation biologists considered a perplexing problem — the slow but steady unraveling of the Yellowstone ecosystem — figured out what was causing it, and then proposed a bold solution that worked even better than expected.

Sadly, the good news has been muted by subsequent political strife over wolf reintroduction outside of Yellowstone. Along the northern front of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, as well as New Mexico and Arizona, so-called wolf wars have added fuel to a decades-old battle over the right to graze cattle or hunt on public land. The shouting has overwhelmed both science and civil discourse. This makes it all the harder to convey the lessons learned to an American public that is mostly ecologically illiterate and never really understood why wolves were put back into Yellowstone in the first place. Even the legion of small donors who supported the project mostly missed the reasons it was undertaken, focusing instead on the “charismatic” qualities of wolves and the chance to see them in the wild.

No Wolves, No Water

Here’s the piece we still don’t get: when we exterminated wolves from Yellowstone in the early 1900s, killing every last one, we de-watered the land. That’s right — no wolves eventually meant fewer streams, creeks, marshes, and springs across western landscapes like Yellowstone where wolves had once thrived.

The chain of effects went roughly like this: no wolves meant that many more elk crowded onto inviting river and stream banks where the grass is green and the livin’ easy. A growing population of fat elk, in no danger of being turned into prey, gnawed down willow and aspen seedlings before they could mature. Willows are both food and building material for beavers. As the willows declined, so did beaver populations. When beavers build dams and ponds, they create wetland habitats for countless bugs, amphibians, fish, birds, and plants, as well as slowing the flow of water and distributing it over broad areas. The consequences of their decline rippled across the land.

Meanwhile, as the land dried up, Yellowstone’s overgrazed riverbanks eroded. Life-giving river water receded, leaving those banks barren. Spawning beds for fish were silted over. Amphibians lost precious shade where they could have sheltered and hidden. Yellowstone’s web of life was fraying and becoming threadbare.

The unexpected relationship between absent wolves and absent water is just one example of how big, scary predators like grizzlies and mountain lions, often called “charismatic carnivores,” regulate their ecosystems from the top down. The results are especially relevant in an era of historic droughts and global warming, both of which are stressing already arid Western lands. Wolf reintroduction wasn’t a scheme designed to undermine vacationing elk hunters or harass ranchers who graze their cattle on public lands. It wasn’t done to please some cabal of elitist, urban environmentalists eager to show rural rednecks who’s the boss, though out here in the West that interpretation’s held sway at many public meetings called to discuss wolf reintroduction.

Let’s be clear then: the decision to put wolves back in Yellowstone was a bold experiment backed by the best conservation science available to restore a cherished American ecosystem that was coming apart at the seams.

The Biggest Losers

Today, wolves are thriving in Yellowstone. The 66 wolves trapped in Canada and released in Yellowstone and the Idaho wilderness in 1995-96 have generated more than 1,700 wolves. More than 200 wolf packs exist in the area today and the effect on the environment has been nothing short of astonishing.

There was one beaver colony in the park at the time wolves were reintroduced. Today, 12 colonies are busy storing water, evening out seasonal water flows, recharging springs, and creating habitat. Willow stands are robust again and the songbirds that nest in them are recovering. Creatures that scavenge wolf-kills for meat, including ravens, eagles, wolverines, and bears, have benefited. Wolves have pushed out and killed the coyotes that feed on pronghorn antelope, so pronghorn numbers are also up. Riverbanks are lush and shady again. With less competition from elk for grass, the bison in the park are doing better, too.

Elk are the sole species that has been diminished — and that, after all, was the purpose of putting wolves back in the game in the first place. The elk population of Yellowstone is still larger than it was at its low point in the late 1960s, but there are fewer elk today than in recent decades. The decline has alarmed elk hunters and the local businesses that rely on their trade.

Worse yet, from the hunting point of view, elk behavior has changed dramatically. Instead of camping out on stream banks and overeating, they roam far more and in smaller numbers, browsing in brushy areas where there is more protective cover. Surviving elk are healthier, but leaner, warier, far more dispersed, and significantly harder to hunt. This further dismays those who had become accustomed to easy hunting and bigger animals.

A lively debate is underway among game wardens, guides, and wildlife biologists about just how far elk numbers have declined, what role drought and other non-wolf variables may be playing in that decline, and whether elk numbers will — or even should — rebound. State wildlife agencies that once fed hay to bountiful populations of elk to keep them from starving during harsh winters depend on hunting and fishing licenses to fill their coffers. Predictably enough, they have come down on the side of the frustrated big game hunters, who think the wolves have killed too many elk. Hunters have been a powerful force for conservation when habitat for birds and big game is at stake, but wolf reintroduction hits them right in the ol’ game bag, and on this issue they seem to be abandoning former conservation allies. Of course, wolves themselves can be hunted and selling the privilege of doing so has proven lucrative for state wildlife agencies. Montana recently expanded its wolf-killing quota from 75 to 186, while Idaho licensed 220 wolf kills in 2009.

Beyond the Bovine Curtain

As wolf reintroduction took hold and wolves migrated out of Yellowstone as far as Oregon to the west and Colorado to the east, it became clear that surrounding states needed plans to deal with their spread. Once regarded as an endangered species and legally protected by the Endangered Species Act, wolves were taken off the formal list of protected creatures wherever states created plans for restoring and managing them. The intention of the federal government was to allow states to participate in, and so take some control over, the recovery process in the West.

As it happened, however, most states took a strikingly hostile approach to their new wolf populations, treating them as varmints. A federal court took away Wyoming’s power to regulate wolves within its borders when it decided that the state’s management goal would be no wolves at all outside of the Yellowstone and Teton national parks. Other Western states are now planning to keep their numbers as low as possible without triggering a federal takeover, too low to play their ecological role, or even survive over the long run, according to conservation biologists. After wolves were “delisited” in Idaho in 2009, 188 of them were killed by hunters before the year was out.

In August 2010, a federal judge ruled that wolves everywhere but in Minnesota and Alaska (where wolf populations are plentiful and healthy) must be relisted as an endangered species and afforded more protection. How this major decision will shape the debate from here on out is uncertain. Since relisting precludes sport hunting, state wildlife agencies are now making plans to kill more wolves themselves to keep their numbers low. Critics worry about a return to the days when wolves were routinely shot, trapped, poisoned, and gassed in their dens.

Up until now, where wolves and cows mix, cows have ruled. What wildlife advocate George Wuerthner calls the bovine curtain limits full wolf restoration to within Yellowstone’s park boundaries. Outside the park, where the feds have less power and control, wolf packs continually form but are often slaughtered, usually at the insistence of ranchers who can legally shoot wolves that attack cattle. They are also compensated for wolf-kill losses from both state funds and privately donated ones. Wolf predation accounts for only about 1% of livestock deaths across the northern Rockies, but those deaths generate disproportionate resentment and fear.

Ranchers are the first to understand that, in the arid West, a cow may require 250 acres of forage to live. In the states where wolves are spreading, cows wander wide and don’t sleep safely in barns at night as they do in the east. Wolves need room to roam, too. Overlap and predation are the inevitable results. If wolves are ever to effectively play their ecological role again across the West, significant changes in animal husbandry, like adding range riders and guard dogs, would be required, as well undoubtedly as less grazing overall. The implied threat to limit grazing provokes fierce opposition from cattlemen’s associations, a powerful and influential Republican constituency throughout the West. Real cowboys don’t sip tea, but as anger over those wolves builds they may be riding off to the nearest tea party nevertheless.

At public hearings across the rural West wherever wolves are rebounding, near-hysterical locals claim that their children will be carried off from their yards by those awful beasts set loose by evil Obamacrats willing to sacrifice life and limb to win favor with tree-hugging easterners. In New Mexico, such hostility has led to poaching that has decimated an endangered species of gray wolves reintroduced 12 years ago after the last survivors of that species were trapped, bred in captivity, and released into the wild.

Eco-Commodities or Ecological Communities?

Today’s wolf wars pit opposing perspectives on how (or even why) our public lands should be managed against each other. The disagreement is fundamental. On one side is a historic/traditional resource management paradigm that sees our Western lands as a storehouse of timber, minerals, and fresh water; on the other side, a new biocentric orientation driven by conservation biologists who see landscapes as whole ecosystems and all species as having intrinsic value. At one end of the spectrum lie strip-mining coal companies; at the other, deep ecologists. In between you can find conflict, contradiction, and confusion as we sort out a new consensus about how to manage vast public land holdings in the West.

In the beginning, Americans assumed that nature was inefficient (if efficiency is defined as getting the most bang for the buck) and that humans could manage the planet better than Mother Earth. Wild rivers, after all, spill their liquid bounty where they will and then empty themselves into the sea. What a waste! In the same way, forest fires were viewed as a prime example of Nature’s wanton destruction. To a rancher who is leasing public land, wolves and cougars are monsters of inefficiency.

It’s far clearer now that nature is, in fact, efficient indeed, if creating healthy, viable ecosystems is what’s on your mind. Matter and energy are never wasted in food webs where synergy is the rule. Because we have come to appreciate how rich nature’s interconnections are, we are now committed to protecting species we once would have wiped out with little regard. Health (including the health of the planet), not wealth alone, is becoming a priority. Think of wolf reintroduction, then, as a kind of hinge-point between the two paradigms. After centuries of not leaving the natural world’s order to chance, micro-managing wherever we could, we are now encouraged to take a chance on Nature, to trust the self-organizing powers of life to heal ecosystems we have wounded.

While organizing campaigns to make polluters accountable, I learned that citizens generally won’t take them on until they grasp that the deepest link they have to their environment is their own bloodstreams. Once they understand the pathways from a smokestack or a poisoned watershed to the tumors growing in their children’s bodies, they can become a powerful force. But first they have to know what’s at stake.

In this regard, ecological literacy is not a side issue. It’s a prerequisite for survival. The articulation of reality is more primal than any strategy or policy. If greed is turning the Earth into a scorched planet of slums, ignorance is its enabler. Just as American farmers once realized that erosion follows ignorance and learned how to plow differently, just as most of us finally learned that rivers should not be used as toxic dumps, so today we must learn that environments have the equivalent of operating systems. Predation by large carnivores is written deep into the code of much of the American landscape. Today, a rancher who expects to do business in a predator-free landscape is no more reasonable than yesterday’s industrialist who expected to use the nearest river as a sewer. Living with wolves may be a challenging proposition, but it’s hardly impossible to do — as folks in Minnesota or Canada can attest.

Hard days are ahead as the weather, once benign and predictable, becomes hotter, drier, and ever more chaotic. Western landscapes are already stressed — whole forests are dying and deserts are becoming dustbowls. To maintain their vitality in the face of such dire challenges, those lands will need all the relief we can give them. We now understand far better the many ways in which nature’s living communities are astonishingly connected and reciprocal. If we could only find the courage to trust their self-organizing powers to heal the wounds we have inflicted, we might become as resilient as those Yellowstone wolves.

Chip Ward lives in Capitol Reef, Utah, where songbirds are eaten by housecats, housecats are eaten by coyotes, and coyotes are eaten by mountain lions. He is the author of Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West and Hope’s Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land. His essays can be found at chipwardessays.blogspot.com.

http://www.truth-out.org/the-big-bad-wolf-makes-good-the-yellowstone-success-story-and-those-who-want-kill-it63644

Photo: kewlwallpapers.com

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, Yellowstone wolves, biodiversity

Tags: wolf reintroduction, predation, Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone National Park, trophic cascades

The Once Mighty Yellowstone Druid Peak Pack Down To Just One Wolf….

This is the saddest wolf news I’ve heard and that’s saying something in a season of bad wolf news.  The once mighty Druids, who ruled the Lamarr Valley in Yellowstone for so many years, the wolves that people came from all over the world to view, who’ve had several documentaries made of their lives, are now down to just one wolf.  Six Druids are missing.

The Druids were hit with mange and lost pups to parvo but this could be the end of them as a pack.  How unbelievable this would happen now when wolves are being hunted for the first time since their reintroduction and over 500 wolves died in the Northern Rockies in 2009.  I have no words to describe the sadness I feel about the demise of the legendary Druid Peak Pack, though their genes will live on in their offspring.

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Kathie Lynch: Druid wolf pack likely to fade away

Only one Druid is known to remain-

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/kathie-lynch-druid-wolf-pack-likely-to-fade-away/

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End of an era in Yellowstone?

 March 03, 2010 Jeff Welsch | GYC

http://www.greateryellowstone.org/news/index.php?id=278

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Famed Yellowstone wolf pack down to 1 member

By The Associated Press

March 07, 2010, 12:11PM

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/famed_yellowstone_wolf_pack_do.html

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, Yellowstone wolves

 Tags: Druid Peak Pack, mange, parvo, legendary wolf pack

 

Published in: on March 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm  Comments (26)  
Tags: , , ,

Yellowstone Wolves Declining

Bad news from Yellowstone National Park.  Gray wolves are declining.  Mange, parvovirus and or canine distemper were partly responsible but the misguided Montana hunt did it’s part to reduce their numbers. If you remember Montana opened it’s hunt in the backcountry, right outside the borders of Yellowstone.  The famed Cottonwood pack was decimated, specifically alpha female 527F, her mate and daughter.  It was like shooting fish in a barrel since those wolves certainly were not expecting to be shot. They had lived their whole lives unmolested in the park and routinely crossed over Yellowstone boundaries, since they can’t read signs. 

“While parvovirus and mange continue to reduce the population, part of this year’s decline can be traced to the fact that wolves lost protection in the Northern Rockies under the Endangered Species Act in 2008. Wolves, like all wildlife, are protected inside the park, but when they roam beyond the borders, they fall into the state’s wildlife management practices. Idaho and Montana, which border Yellowstone, permitted hunting of wolves this fall. Idaho recently extended its hunt until March.”

Anti wolf detractors constantly talk about wolves reproducing themselves each year to make up for the fallen. Wolves on the contrary are not like coyotes, they don’t tolerate rapid change well, especially when there are wolf hunts, Wildlife Services War on Wolves, mange, parvovirus and wolf territorial disputes all coming together at once, it seems wolves are mortal after all. 

“The wolves have it hard enough inside the park,” says Rolf Peterson, a wildlife biologist at Michigan Technological University. “The Yellowstone wolves should be treated like national treasures and protected.”

Wolf watchers are lamenting the decline of wolves in North Yellowstone.  The beloved Druids, now number only ten members AND are battling mange, which was introduced by the state of Montana in 1905 to eradicate the wolf population Hard to believe but it’s true.  Mange in humans is called scabies. 

So the once robust wolf population in Yellowstone is down to 116 wolves from the high of 174 wolves in 2003. 

“The gray wolf population is declining, says Doug Smith, the coordinator of the reintroduction efforts and leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project that studies and manages the wolves. Wolves are killing each other at a higher frequency to compete for elk, their primary food source, which is less abundant now, he says.

“The good times are over,” Smith says. His annual census of the park’s wolf population is expected to be the lowest in 10 years, he said. Smith is still gathering data but says the number of gray wolves in the park will be 116, a 33% drop from 2003, when the population was at an all-time high of 174.”

Living on an island like Yellowstone has it’s consequences for wolves.  With the introduction of hunts, wolves dare not venture outside the park, which makes the chance of dispersal and genetic exchange even more difficult.

Being a wolf in Yellowstone and throughout the Northern Rockies in general,  is as hard as it’s ever been since their reintroduction.  Stopping the wolf hunts and the assault by Wildlife Services will go a long way to help them recover.  I’m hoping Judge Molloy agrees.

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Gray wolf population declining in Yellowstone

Updated December 15, 2009

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2009-12-14-Wolves_N.htm

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Yellowstone wolves, biodiversity, wolf recovery

Tags: Yellowstone wolves, Montana wolf hunt, wolf recovery, Wildlife Services

 

Rock Star Wolves….The Druid Peak Pack

Yellowstone_Wolves

Update: March 6, 2010 The Druid Peak Pack is down to just one wolf.  This is a tragic end to a legendary wolf pack.  Click here for the sad story

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Wolves are the rock stars in Yellowstone National Park.  No animal is more popular, with the exception of the Great Bear. Wolves are charismatic, social, smart, great parents and completely captivating.  One pack stands out against the backdrop of Yellowstone’s little Serengeti” Lamar Valley….The Druids. 

For years they ruled the Lamar Valley, battling other wolf packs for dominance BUT they’ve suffered a setback in recent times.  The pack that once numbered 37 have diminished to just 10 wolves, who are plagued by mange.  BUT the Druids are making a comeback and if they can beat the mange as the Mollies Pack  have, they may once again take their place as the rulers of the Lamar.

Still the  Druid Peak Pack are the most celebrated wolf pack in the world, having been featured in several National Geographic documentaries, specifically: Wolves: A Legend Returns to Yellowstone and In The Valley of the Wolves.   Since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 and the subsequent formation of the Druids, they have been and will continue to be studied and researched by teams of  biologists and wolf researchers such as Doug Smith and Daniel MacNulty. They attract tourists from around the globe,who breathlessly observe them through high powered viewing scopes. The Druid’s lives are played out, against the backdrop of Lamar, like a lupine version of  a famous soap opera. (click this link for the full Nature version of: In the Valley of the Wolves)

Here is the beginning of their story, told through the lens of Bob Landis, famous filmmaker, director and photographer.  Sadly, the Druids famed alpha’s #21 and #42 are no longer with us but the Druids live on in their beloved Lamar. 

IN THE VALLEY OF THE WOLVES

The Director, Bob Landis, discusses the Druids and the making of this spectacular glimpse into their lives.

Yellowstone wolves are worth their weight in gold, bringing in $30-$35 million per year, in tourism dollars, to Greater Yellowstone.  They are more profitable then hunting in that area.

Instead of killing wolves we should be re-thinking ways to increase eco-tourism, which could generate big revenue across Montana, Idaho and the west.  Ninety percent of the public does not hunt.  The majority of Americans want their wildlife living and breathing.   We must stop living in the past, using  arcane and cruel methods to control our predators for agriculture and move forward into the twenty first century, respecting wolves as top dog predators who are necessary for a balanced and healthy ecosystem.  It’s the wolf who honed the elegant elk into the beautiful creatures they are, not man.  Nipping at their heals, down through the ages, canis lupus bequeathed to the elk, their fleetness of foot.  

For many Americans wolves remain a symbol of freedom, an icon of the West.  The wild canine’s continuing recovery and presence will help preserve the wild places for our children and their children.  But if we continue down the destructive path we’re on will our legacy to them be a West Without Wolves?

alphas 42 and 21 druids

legendary Druid alpha’s #42 and #21

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Howling Druids

Yellowstone Druid Wolves I

Photo: Wikemedia Commons

Categories posted in: Yellowstone wolves, biodiversity

Tags: Yellowstone wolves, gray wolf

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Wolf tourism in Yellowstone region

eyes of the wolf

http://www.montanasnewsstation.com/Global/story.asp?S=7880672&nav=menu227_5

Published in: on November 6, 2009 at 7:53 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,
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