In last week’s WolfWednesday’s post, I mentioned the famous Druid wolf pack of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. This post is in memory of this famous pack, who presented many wolf-watchers and photographers many great photo opps over a 14-year time period. Unfortunately, the original Druid pack was killed off during the winter of 2009-2010, with only a few descendants believed to be remaining (and now part of other packs). Before I get into the images I made during February 2008 of the Druids, let me go over some interesting facts about this pack.
According to information I have been reading, the Druid pack began forming while they were still in the release enclosure in 1996, when wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone’s ecosystem. And most of the wolves in the original Druid pack came from the same pack from British Columbia. Their numbers steadily grew until the pack reached an all-time high of 37 members in 2001. But their demise occurred rapidly in late 2009/early 2010, when mange ravaged the Druid pack, seriously weakening them. Between the effects of the disease and many of the weakened Druid wolves being killed by competing packs, their numbers spiraled downward to a single known living pack member in the spring of 2010; speculation is that this lone wolf never survived. But I have read that both the alpha and beta males of the Blacktail Plateau pack (which I was blessed with the opportunity of viewing through a spotting scope, during my recent visit to Yellowstone) were born Druid members that left the Druids to join the BT pack. If this is true, the bloodline of the Druids still remains alive. But the joy of watching the famous Druids as they often wandered near the road through the Lamar Valley is now just a figment of our minds.
And now for some images. This set of images was made in one sitting. As I arrived at one of the larger pullouts in the Lamar Valley, I could see the Druid pack, spread out a bit on a snow-covered peak across the river from us … some lying down and some pacing around, as if a bit nervous or anxious. As we watched and photographed, the pack began to get up and move around, becoming more active. A short while later, the pack fanned out in a single line and began traveling, first towards us and the river, then following the river as they headed away from us. Presumably, they were beginning a hunting trip. Here is a compilation of the many images I made that day … my camera’s motor drive a smokin’:
May the memories of the Druids forever live in our hearts and our minds!