OCTOBER TRIP - October 22-32


There is more sad news for followers and fans of the Junction Butte pack.

In late September, the pack lost two important female members. 1382F and 1276F.

On approximately 9/11/23, the former alpha female 1382F (collared in Feb 2023) died of a kick to the head. She was found by the project soon after. I am glad I saw her in September before this unhappy event. She was a very interesting wolf and the Junction Pack thrived, growing to 34 wolves during her leadership.

She became alpha partly as a result of continued rivalry between sisters 969F and 907F. Her style was in the vein of 40F and 380F, meaning that she was most often noticeable for how fiercely she would pin or dominate other females in the pack. However she was also a fierce protector of her pups and yearlings.

She led the pack with a high tail. She seemed to have a particular dislike of birds and would often chase them away from a carcass, a behavior more common to young wolves than adults.

One distinct memory of her was at Hellroaring, when she charged towards a carcass, catching a young bald eagle as it failed in its attempt to fly away. She then trotted back and forth in front of her pack, showing off her winged prize.

I also remember seeing her after she had lost her status. She found a way to be away from the new higher-status females, and trotted through Lamar Valley accompanied by three subordinate wolves. Her tail was high again and she seemed to revel in their attention and deference to her, if only for an hour or so.

RIP 1382F!

About two weeks after 1382 died, wolf 1276F (acting alpha female along with 907F) received an injury that broke off her lower jaw. For several days she was observed interacting with the pack with this injury. She was seen drinking from the river by simply facing upstream. No one knows how she might have been able to eat.

She has not been seen since the end of September and has probably died, but because her collar does not work, she is unlikely to ever be found.

Like 1382F, she was a fascinating wolf. We watched her since she was one of three pups born in 2018. Her gray brother ended up founding the Rescue Creek pack; and her black brother disappeared sometime in winter 2019.

From the beginning her independent streak was noticeable. She was always an excellent contributor to the pack’s success, diligently bringing food as a yearling to the 8 pups born in 2019. She participated in hunts and was a fast runner. She was often seen trotting away from where the Pack was bedded, off on a mission of her own. She was born black but developed gray patches fairly early.

She always looked a bit skinny and lanky to me, reminding me of 755M.

When 1382F was deposed in early summer 2023, 1276F clearly enjoyed her elevated status, pinning subordinates (including 1382) with a high-flying tail, nuzzling with the alpha male and often leading the pack as they travelled.

It is hard to imagine receiving such a horrible injury, but that is life for a wild wolf. In true 1276F style, she spent her last days behaving just as boldly and independently as always.

They will both be missed.

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