In the past two months an estimated 8-10 Yellowstone wolves have been legally murdered for no reason other than straying across the invisible borders of the Park into Wyoming and Montana.
Two days ago the collared ’06 alpha female (also known as 832F) of Lamar Valley was shot and killed by a hunter in an area some 16 miles East of YNP near where her pack mate 754M was trophy-bagged a few weeks earlier.
Perhaps the most famous of all wolves, ’06 had been seen and loved by an estimated one million viewers. I, myself, was enchanted with her, and would like to take this opportunity in tribute to reblog a portion of a recently-published anecdote from her remarkable life…
Five days after the birth of the Lamar Canyon Pack’s pups 16 Mollies brazenly raided their den.
The Lamar pack is led by the famous 6-year-old gray alpha female, 832F. (Along with a 4-year-old black alpha male, 755M.) Formerly known as “The ’06 Female,” she is savvy and courageous with a reputation for quick and decisive action.
2006 – 2012
832F immediately raced out of the den site to lure the 16 invading Mollies away from the pups. At her age she did not have the advantage of speed, but she knew the terrain, and she had a plan.
Some distance away 832F paused at the brink of a steep cliff. The Mollies with hackles raised closed in on her, sensing a kill. Suddenly 832F disappeared over the ledge and dropped out of sight. She took advantage of a treacherous but navigable route down the rocky slope and correctly calculated that the Mollies would be too intimidated to chance the unfamiliar terrain.
As the bewildered Mollies regrouped and turned back toward the den, 832F’s two-year-old daughter suddenly arrived on the scene. She bravely charged straight toward the 16 Mollies to get their attention, and then lured them further away on another chase.
Young and fit, in the prime of her life, the daughter easily outran the Mollies.
Thanks to a coordinated effort by 832F and her daughter, the 9 members of the Lamar Canyon Pack and their 4 pups, though heavily outnumbered by the invading Mollies, were safe and sound.
Alpha Female 832F, despite her age, or maybe because of it, is a consummate professional at what she does – which is to protect and guide the Lamar Canyon Pack from one generation to the next in a land wild and unforgiving.
Crafty and courageous, 832F has a dedicated cadre of enthusiasts who faithfully chronicle her every move, such as they can. Wolf-watching is addictive. I went to Yellowstone in June for a two-week visit and ended up staying three months. And while I was never part of the “inner circle” of lupophiles, I quickly found myself crawling out of bed day after day at 4am and driving an hour and a half in the dark to be on site at sunrise. All for the slim chance of spotting a wolf usually too far away for a decent photograph.
Good-bye, alpha ’06
The Wolf That Changed America
How famous was 832F? Well, it is probably safe to say that she is the only Canis lupus to have her obituary published in the New York Times.
By NATE SCHWEBER
Published: December 8, 2012
Yellowstone National Park’s best-known wolf, beloved by many tourists and valued by scientists who tracked its movements, was shot and killed on Thursday outside the park’s boundaries, Wyoming wildlife officials reported.
The wolf that researchers called 832F, left, was shot on Thursday. The alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack, she wore a tracking collar. The wolf with her, known as 754, was killed last month.
The wolf, known as 832F to researchers, was the alpha female of the park’s highly visible Lamar Canyon pack and had become so well known that some wildlife watchers referred to her as a “rock star.” The animal had been a tourist favorite for most of the past six years.
The wolf was fitted with a $4,000 collar with GPS tracking technology, which is being returned, said Daniel Stahler, a project director for Yellowstone’s wolf program. Based on data from the wolf’s collar, researchers knew that her pack rarely ventured outside the park, and then only for brief periods, Dr. Stahler said.
This year’s hunting season in the northern Rockies has been especially controversial because of the high numbers of popular wolves and wolves fitted with research collars that have been killed just outside Yellowstone in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Wolf hunts, sanctioned by recent federal and state rules applying to the northern Rockies, have been fiercely debated in the region.
The wolf population has rebounded since they were reintroduced in the mid-1990s to counter their extirpation a few years earlier.
Many ranchers and hunters say the wolf hunts are a reasonable way to reduce attacks on livestock and protect big game populations.
This fall, the first wolf hunts in decades were authorized in Wyoming. The wolf killed last week was the eighth collared by researchers that was shot this year after leaving the park’s boundary.
The deaths have dismayed scientists who track wolves to study their habits, population spread and threats to their survival. Still, some found 832F’s death to be particularly disheartening.
“She is the most famous wolf in the world,” said Jimmy Jones, a wildlife photographer who lives in Los Angeles and whose portrait of 832F appears in the current issue of the magazine American Scientist.
Wildlife advocates say that the wolf populations are not large enough to withstand state-sanctioned harvests and that the animals attract tourist money. Yellowstone’s scenic Lamar Valley has been one of the most reliable places to view wolves in the northern Rockies, and it attracts scores of visitors every year.