Sharing the inspiring life stories of Yellowstone wolves with the world.
I was very fortunate my very first year living in Yellowstone National Park to actually live in Lamar Valley at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch campus, where I was a program assistant for Yellowstone Association field courses. And I was even more fortunate to have known and encountered the 06 Female often during my first three years in Yellowstone National Park (2010-2012). What follows here is a story about that first year and my experience with the Silver Pack and 06’s older brother, sw147.
A Tail of Two Packs:
My First Year Living Among Yellowstone Wolves
My very first year living in Yellowstone National Park was magical. I moved into my volunteer cabin at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Lamar Valley in May 2010, and would be fortunate enough to live there the entire summer. But even more than that, I was surrounded on either side by two amazing wolf packs!
I would wake amid the continual snowfalls of May and June to the howls of the Silver Pack and a second group of wolves that would later that summer be called the Lamar Canyon Pack.
The Silver Pack’s territory was Lamar Valley itself, and they were named after the coat color of the alpha female of the pack. And the second group’s territory was adjacent to and just west of Lamar Valley in an area that I came know as Little America.
Both packs had produced litters of pups a month before my arrival, and the viewing of the pups at Slough Creek was epic. Not since the Slough Creek Pack itself had such pup viewing been possible, and we were doubly blessed to regularly watch the Silver Pack pups at the Old Druid Rendezvous just on the other side of the valley.
The alpha ’06 Female at Slough Creek was making a name for herself as a strategist, leader and hunter extraordinaire that summer. We watched her single-pawedly bring down elk, and even match up with a bear that had come too near to her first litter of pups.
And the alpha male of the Silver Pack was making a name for himself as well. He was named sw147(Mb) because he was radio-collared in southwestern Montana while with the Eight Mile Pack years earlier, when that pack’s territory was still the Eight Mile Creek area of Paradise Valley and before they established a new territory in Yellowstone National Park.
He was truly a wolf of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, having left his natal pack and traveled well beyond the boundaries of the park to mix and mingle with many packs before returning to his birth area in the park.
The summer of these two neighboring packs was truly remarkable and memorable to me for another reason. You see, the Silver alpha male and the Lamar alpha female were, in fact, brother and sister.
Both had been born into the Agate Creek Pack and were the offspring of that pack’s alpha pair, 472Fb and 113Mg. Wolf sw147 was the older brother, having been born a few years earlier than his ’06 sister; but both displayed the particular social adaptivity known among members of the Agate Creek Pack.
The two packs never tussled with each other that summer, undoubtedly due to their leaders’ relationship with each other.
And while ’06 and her pack gained fame that summer, her bother did as well … in a different way.
That summer I watched him display a level of compassion the likes of which I have never seen since. I remember this glossy chocolate brown-coated wolf when he replaced the older Silver Pack alpha male to assume his new position in the pack. And I remember that he not only allowed the old male to remain and hunt with the pack but – time after time – showed him great respect as an elder and former leader of the pack.
The old alpha was often seen trailing far behind his Silver packmates returning from hunts, but on more than one occasion I witnessed ‘06’s older brother come up to the old male after they returned to the Old Druid Rendezvous and lick his muzzle in respect and appreciation. And I often saw the new alpha male sleeping alongside the older wolf.
But the history of the Silver Pack, my first home pack, would begin and end that year. On October 31, 2010 the lifeless body of sw147 was found. He had been killed by another wolf pack; possibly the Mollie’s, and the Silver Pack dissolved shortly thereafter – with the Silver Alpha Female herself last seen alone in early November with severe mange.
And it was that winter that ’06 brought her newly named Lamar Canyon Pack into Lamar Valley to assume her older brother’s territory.
To be continued …
Archivist, Site Manager & Co-Founder: The Yellowstone Wolf Family Tree
Lead of Program Education & Outreach: Wolf Connection
Pack Member & Storyteller: The 06 Legacy