The Wolves

Yellowstone contains the largest concentration of free-roaming wildlife in the lower 48 states. Known as North America’s Serengeti, Lamar Valley has been home to the first reintroduced Druid Peak wolf pack. The original five members of the pack were captured in British Columbia and relocated to the valley in 1996. In the next five years this pack grew to become the biggest wolf pack ever documented. The dynasty has fallen and come back a few times in the past decade and has been documented in numerous films such as BBC’s Yellowstone series. The drama came to an end in 2010 with wolves leaving the pack followed by the death of the last female wolf. Nowadays the valley is mainly occupied by Agate and Lamar Canyon packs.

Our Christmas present was to see these wolves occupying a high ridge on the north side of the road between Tower Junction and Cooke City. There would have been more than 200 visitors aggregating to the site if it were a summer day. On this day we were among a dozen of people who braved the bitter cold at dusk and watched those tiny dots from behind our long lenses or scopes.

As the night fell, the alpha adults led the howling as a signal to gather the pack, perhaps in preparation for their night hunt. These adults disappeared from our scopes and a few minutes later, an old lady with binocular in hand, nudged me and pointed to the other side of the road. Another half dozen of wolves were rushing down the other hill, and the two groups convened and played joyfully as if they haven’t seen each other for weeks. We kept monitoring their activity along Lamar River until all the happy dots dissolved in the dark.