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Field Journal: Gray Wolves of Yellowstone


Tuesday, November 12, 1996

Travels of wolf 565F
Reported by Chris Lucash

Yesterday, after biological technician John Weller finished checking the raccoon traps, I met him at the Elkmont release area. This is a part of the Park where we released a pair of red wolves in March 1996. The female, 565F, denned and whelped (gave birth to) eight pups in mid-April.

Since the release, we have almost always been able to locate 565F and her mate (538M) near the den area or one of the rendezvous sites. Rendezvous sites are areas where adults and young wolves meet and stay for a period of time. Sometimes it's a den area, but not always.

Within the last few weeks, however, my radio telemetry has found 565F farther from the den area on many more occasions than what we considered normal. This made us wonder if something had recently happened to change her habits. So we decided to look around the rendezvous areas for sign (tracks) of pups, or perhaps even spot one or more of the pups.

There could be several explanations for her recent long-distance travels. Food may be becoming scarcer near the den area and she has to travel farther in search of prey. 565F may need to search for additional food to support the pups as they grow. She could be taking some or all of her pups with her to areas where there is more small game that the pups could catch on their own. It's even possible that 565F may have just become bored with remaining in the same general area for six months and is traveling because of her curiosity!

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