An old article about the first wolf reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, wolf #5. Mollie's pack and #5 - the first matriarch
Yellowstone officials rename wolf pack.
By Rebecca Huntington - Jackson Hole Guide
Wolf No. 5 is eking out a hardscrabble existence in Yellowstone National Park six years after she became the park's first reintroduced wolf. Today, she roams alone along the Lamar River and through Pelican Valley. She is the only wolf still living of the original Crystal Creek wolves - among the first 14 Canadian gray wolves brought to Yellowstone.
U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Mollie Beattie and park Superintendent Mike Finley ushered in Yellowstone's wolf reintroduction program by carrying the 98-pound female in an aluminum box to the Crystal Creek pen on Jan. 12, 1995.
On Saturday, Yellowstone officials renamed the Crystal Creek wolves the Mollie Beattie Pack, or Mollie's pack, as a memorial to the former fish and wildlife service director, who died of a brain tumor. Finley said park staff had been looking for the right pack to commemorate Beattie's role in returning wolves to Yellowstone. They chose the Crystal Creek wolves because Beattie had direct contact with the pack, carrying No. 5 to the park holding pen. Beattie even requested her ashes be scattered on the Crystal Creek pen site - a wish her husband has honored.
The surviving members of the Crystal pack are an against-the-odds foursome and a fitting memorial to Beattie, Finley said. "It really embodies the spirit of Mollie Beattie." Moreover, the Crystal wolves no longer live near Crystal Creek and since No. 5 left the pack, none of the original Canadian wolves remain with the group, Finley said, explaining the need for a new name.
In 1995, wolf No. 5 and other Canadian wolves from the Crystal Creek pen settled in the Lamar Valley after they were released. They did not breed that first year. The following year, they set up a den and bred, but none of the pups survived after a territorial battle with another pack. A newly-released pack, the Druid Peak Pack, attacked the Crystal wolves at their den. The Druids killed the alpha male and injured No. 5. After the fight, the Crystal wolves left Lamar Valley for good.
No. 5 rebounded from her injuries and moved south to the Pelican Valley with wolf No. 6. Pelican Valley does not boast the abundant elk of the Lamar. Each winter, elk migrate out of Pelican Valley, leaving primarily bison for the wolves to prey upon. Park wolf researchers have witnessed the Crystal pack killing bison in late winter when the dangerous prey is weakened. Despite harsh winters, the Crystal pack swelled to 15 wolves by 1999. But that fall, the pack again lost its alpha male - this time, a bull elk severed the wolf's femoral artery. The pack has since declined to four hardy wolves - now called Mollie's pack.
No. 5 left the pack and now lives alone. "She's still out there, very, very old, but still hanging on," said park wolf biologist Doug Smith.
http://www.jhguide.com/ - 1/20/01