September 23, 2011
The Decline of Yellowstone’s Famous Druid Peak Pack
Yellowstone's famous Druid Peak Pack, which roamed the Lamar Valley for nearly 15 years, disappeared from the park’s landscape in 2010. It was considered the most closely watched and photographed wolf pack in the world.
Through their intensive monitoring and research activities, Yellowstone Wolf Project staff have been able to piece together the story of the decline of the Druids. The details emphasize the life and death struggle wolves face to survive, even in a protected area like Yellowstone.
It is probable that intraspecific strife – or competition and conflict between wolf packs – contributed to the Druids’ downfall. Disease may have tipped the scale to their disadvantage, as well. However, since the former Druid territory is now occupied by another pack, it appears that the territory is still prime wolf habitat.
The following is an excerpt from the Yellowstone Wolf Project 2010 Annual Report:
The Druid Peak pack collapsed in late 2009 and early 2010, possibly due to the loss of long-time alpha female #569F and an infestation of mange affecting all pack members. In early 2010, the pack split into several groups and survived largely through scavenging from kills by other packs.
Three-year-old #691F was attacked by the Silver pack and died under one of the Lamar Buffalo Ranch Yellowstone Association Institute cabins, while the two-year-old, “Thin Female,” was fatally wounded while scavenging a Blacktail Deer Plateau pack carcass.
Three-year-old “White Line” (761F) fought with the Lamar Canyon alpha female at a kill site and was later killed in the same area, possibly by wolves or a mountain lion. Several other Druid Peak wolves disappeared during this time, including #571F and two yearling males.
The last collared Druid Peak member, yearling #690F, dispersed to Butte, Montana, where she was legally shot and killed near livestock.
The last known sighting of a Druid Peak pack member (“Dull Bar,” female) occurred in the Hellroaring drainage in late winter with a group of wolves suspected to be from a pack north of the park. Alpha #480M dispersed from the others in late 2009, and his decomposed body was found near the Hellroaring drainage (unknown cause).
The Druid Peak pack had exceptional longevity and their legacy lives on in many of today’s packs.