White Wolf!

I am craning my neck to catch every angle as the time in Wonderland is coming to a close. Time feels precious, even though I’ll be in Montana again and Bob has extended a generous invitation.

Then a white wolf (not the same but an example) crests near the top of the ridge near/past Blacktail, maybe before the Gardiner River?  Beautiful!!  She sits.  I bark out “White Wolf!  White Wolf!  Stop the car!”  We back up the car and she trots roughly 50’ east at the base of a rock formation at the top of the ridge, then she rounds up and away.


So!  About all these wonderfully colored wolves.  The Eastern Gray Wolf is only gray – that would be Minnesota and further east.  But about 10,000 years ago, the Western gray wolf had a back-breeding with wild dogs strayed from the Tribes, and black and white fur was reintroduced.  So Yellowstone has had three introductions — two Canadian in the mid-90s (with one white one, 39F, from British Columbia) and the third of some Northwestern Montana one year after.  Now about 5% of the YNP wolf population is white.  A few of the females are really big white wolves; they are born a light grey and then fade to near white as they age. (You can also see how famous Wolf 21, jet-black, aged to gray as he entered his senior years.)  There are about 100 wolves in YNP so about 5 have the possibility of aging to mostly white.

(Another white alpha-female suffered severe wounds in a poaching crime committed inside the park in 2017.  She and her in utero five pups had to be euthanized.  She was 12 years old and had had 20 offspring.)

So a white wolf is a rare occurrence, and rarer to see one.  One site indicates there is only one white wolf in Yellowstone at the moment, the alpha-female of the Wapiti Lake pack – now venturing further north, as Bob mentioned. 

A poem is coming out of this white wolf experience because narrative will never capture what it felt like to see her!

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