I 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 a generous invitation from Bob.
Then a white wolf (not the same but an example) cresting near the top of the ridge near/past Blacktail, maybe before the Gardner River? Beautiful!! She was just sitting. 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.
THAT WAS SO STINKING COOL!!!
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!