YELLOWSTONE RE-OPENS!

INTRODUCTION AND WOLF UPDATE

After being closed for 10 weeks due to Covid19, Yellowstone opened the very popular Wyoming gates (East, South and West) on May 18. The idea was to experiment by opening just the lower loop road, plus a few amenities and no interior lodging. Subsequently the wolf reports from Hayden have been pretty great. On June 1 the Park opened the remaining 2 Montana gates (North and Northeast).

Montana waited because we have a sensible governor (Bullock) who was more cautious than Wyoming in risking his citizensí health. Since late March, Montana required a 14-day quarantine period for all out of state/country travelers since mid-March. But when cases began to stabilize and then taper off in May, the rules were loosened.

Even while the Park was closed, some wolf-activity information trickled out. The gist of it was that the Junction Butte Pack had denned in their traditional area at Slough Creek, and the 3 mothers (alpha female, 907 and a 2 yr old black female) had a combined total of 18 pups!

For all of April & most of May, the Junctions were able to raise their pups without all the usual noise and smell of human visitors, which had to have been a welcome change for them. However, many of us harbored a worry that once the calm was shattered by people once again hanging out in the pullouts, the pups would be moved elsewhere.

During the months when the Park was closed, my life took a major turn. My company took a direct hit from the virus; my income flow was abruptly shut off in March and there was no sign whatsoever that work would return before spring 2021. It was becoming clearer every day that we would not survive.

When it became clear that the northern range would soon be open again, I began wanting an escape from my worries, even a brief one. I learned that the Slough campground road was now open despite the campground itself remaining closed, so there were numerous pullouts from which the pups could be seen.

So, with Laurie & Danís encouragement, I grabbed my first chance to see those puppies for myself, even though I could only stay one night. I figured if all went well, I would return in a week for a slightly longer stay. And thatís what I did, which is why this report is in two parts with a week in between.

WOLF UPDATE:

While the Junction Butte Pack is having a banner year, pack member 1109F is on the outs, to a greater degree than last year. Although she looked pregnant in the spring, she did not den with the other mothers at Slough. Since the wolf projectís work was interrupted in March, there is no data on her for several months, but it is generally thought that she denned in the Cache Creek area, although as of yet, no pups have been seen with her.


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