Yellowstone wolf oddities
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
October 20, 2019
Yellowstone National Park has released its wolf project annual report for 2018, reporting that there were at least 80 wolves in 9 packs (7 breeding pairs) living primarily in the park at the end of December 2018.
For all the details, download the report at the link below.
Interesting items in the report include the discovery of a hermaphrodite wolf (meaning having both male and female sex organs). According to the report on the Cougar Creek pack, "During handling for collaring operations, it was found that the wolf assumed to be the alpha female was actually a hermaphrodite. This wolf, 1116U (U denotes neither male or female status given), died in late February due to an apparent gunshot wound outside the park." This black wolf was handled in order to replace her radio-collar, and was classified as an old adult (more than six years old).
In the Junction Butte pack, all four of the pack’s females bred and produced pups, with three of the four females having pups in one den. "By late May, as many as 11 pups were counted at the Slough den, nursed by all three females."
A subordinate male wolf in the pack "showed an unusual infatuation with the small pups" which resulted in the death of at least one of the pups and possibly more. Only three of the pups survived the summer.
Three females from the Mollie’s Pack also bred, but one was killed before she could give birth to her pups. The two other females whelped in separate dens.
The Wapiti Lake pack also produced two litters, and ended the year with 19 wolves in the pack, including 13 adults and six pups.
The four adult members of the Bechler pack denned, but after a black bear was photographed entering the den, the pack abandoned the den and no pups were found.