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Field Journal: Gray Wolves of Yellowstone


Yellow Mike Tuesday, October 8, 1996

Release of the Soda Butte Pack
Reported by Mike Phillips

Yesterday afternoon we released five wolves! Doug Smith, a biologist, and Marv Jensen, the assistant superintendent of Yellowstone, opened the pen. They went to the back part of the pen, away from the gate we usually use to go in, and removed a 10-foot section of the chain-link fence.

I spent most of the day in the office working on all kinds of stuff. The most important thing I did was order more wolf food. Our supply has dwindled quickly since the 17 wolves in captivity ate a total of about 200 lbs. of meat every day. There are now 12 wolves left in the pens so we still need a lot of food. The wolves eat road-killed elk and bison. We get the meat from all around the Park.

The 17 wolves have been housed in 2 different pens inside Yellowstone. We're calling the group that's just been released the Soda Butte after the area of Yellowstone where their pen was. The wolves will probably stay in the same part of the park after they are released.

The captive wolves have been in the pens for different reasons. Some of the wolves are puppies that were born this past spring. We captured them so that we could put radio-collars on them. Others come from Augusta, Montana. They were part of a 10-pup litter. The mother was killing sheep to feed them all so the pups were moved to Yellowstone.

Tomorrow we'll check to see if any of the wolves left the pen. But they may still all be inside. In the past, it's taken as long as 12 days for the wolves to leave.

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