INTRODUCTION and WOLF NEWS UPDATE
Work has been hideously stressful and I really needed this break. Although this trip was very short, it provided the rejuvenation I needed.
The weather in Bozeman was unseasonably warm, as high as 80. But once I got to the Park, the clouds came in, with rain and even some snow. Wolf watching was better than I had expected, to my great delight.
There continue to be upheavals in the wolf world. Although it looks as though Lamar Canyon has denned in about the same area as last year (close to the traditional Druid den area) other packs are not yet set. One big change to the Lamar Canyon pack is that its alpha female, otherwise known as The 06, got a collar in late February. She is now #832F, but I will likely continue to call her The 06. One of her yearling daughters also got a collar, so she is now #820F. That makes four collared wolves in this pack (including alpha male 755 and his brother 754) but a two-year old gray female is still known as #776F even though her collar fell off. Her litter-mate sibling is 2 year old "Middle Gray". There are three more yearlings in the pack: an uncollared gray female, an uncollared black female and an uncollared black male. I do not know what happened to the second black female yearling but I suspect the Mollies.
Not much is known about what's going on with the Blacktails. The alpha pair seems devoted to each other, but several of the breeding-age males have been away from home, looking for love. Former beta male 838 (Big Blaze) has found love with two Agate females, and as soon as that was obvious, two Mollie females ran them off - perhaps killed them. Also hanging out with Big Blaze and his females are Puff and 777M, both born Blacktails, related to Big Blaze.
The Mollies did not seem to pair off as many of us expected in February. They seem to travel in several fluid groups, one group somewhat consistently with about 12 members. We still do not see double scent marking among them. Some additional Mollies got collars recently: there are now 4 collars in this pack of (usually) 10-16. 686F, the acting alpha female is a gray; two other adult females are 759 (gray - she lost her collar but is still recognizable by some) and 779 (black). Recent collars include adult female 822 (black), yearling female #823 (gray) and yearling male #824 (gray). #824's collar is a GPS.
The Canyons DO seem to be exhibiting denning behavior; they moved from Mammoth over to Canyon, to their usual haunts.
The aggression of the February mating season seems to have mellowed a bit, but the Mollies' presence on the Northern Range continues to keep everyone on edge.
I am grateful, as always, to John Uhler for starting my Loon adventure, to Doug Dance for creating this webpage and teaching me how to use it, and to Laurie L for her continued friendship and generosity.
And a note about Allison and her spirit. Allison was a shining-light of a woman, my friend and the Queen of the Loons. She passed away suddenly in December of 2003. In June of 2004, her loving family arranged for her ashes to be scattered on Kite Hill in Mammoth Hot Springs, where she had worked in her youth. Many of us were in attendance at that ceremony. Thus, each time I visit the Park I feel her presence, and I hope always to share my trips with her.