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Yellowstone Wolf: Tracking the Packs

Yellowstone's wolf packs—Chief Joseph

The Chief Joseph pack originally consisted of 4 wolves translocated in the 1996 re-introduction effort. Three of these wolves (031M, 032F, and 033F) originated from the Kravac pack in British Columbia and 032F became the alpha female. The alpha male (034M) came from different, unidentified pack in Canada. After being released together as a cohesive pack, the male pup (031M) immediately dispersed and months later joined the Druid Peak pack. In June of the same year the alpha female (032F) was killed on Highway 191, north of West Yellowstone; a fate that multiple Chief Joseph wolves succumbed to over the following decade. In 1997, wolf 034M travelled widely, crossed multiple pack territories, and sustained injuries during intraspecific conflicts during his forays. What he gained, however, was the companionship of two sisters from the Rose Creek pack (016F and 017F) who he subsequently bred with. The sisters denned over 20 miles from each other and alpha male 034M remained with 017F and her pups. When 017F died in July, 034M brought their pups to 016F’s den. In August when 033F returned to the pack, she and 034M re-located deceased 017F’s pups back to their original rendezvous site, leaving 016F and her pups to fend for themselves again. Even though 016F bred with 034M again in 1998, 016F and her offspring were called the Chief Joseph II pack (they were later renamed the Sheep Mountain pack) because they became so separate from the original Chief Joseph pack. The alpha male (034M) also bred with the Chief Joseph alpha female (033F) in 1998. This alpha pair remained prolific until 2001 when she was hit by a car and killed and later that year he was killed by other wolves. This was the first time since the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone that a Yellostone pack lost both alphas in 1 year. The pack persisted with all uncollared wolves and used the traditional den site and similar territory. Starting in 2003, the pack became a border pack with Montana and by 2005 the pack was considered a Montana pack, residing inside the state year-round.

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