In Memory of Yellowstone Wolf 926F
March 13, 2019 4:37 PM   Subscribe

She was a survivor and an alpha. And then she was legally shot and killed by a hunter. Yellowstone Park's legendary wolf researcher Rick McIntyre reflects on the life of one of the park's most famous canines.
posted by primalux (22 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you primalux, for some reason that was exactly what I wanted to read right now.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:08 PM on March 13

For a related book; American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee is about 06, the mother of 926. I received a copy for Christmas and its a good read.
posted by graxe at 5:18 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]

And then she was legally shot and killed by a hunter.

Because of course she was.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:22 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]

A male showed up in 1999, and its existence so perplexed state officials that they captured it, put it in a crate, and sent it back to Idaho.
Interesting, that's how I react to unexpected guests too.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:28 PM on March 13 [20 favorites]

That was haunting. Great post.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:40 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]

posted by lapolla at 6:12 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]

There is resistance to reintroducing wolves out west. I wonder if tagging them, and mountain lions, isn't leading to their destruction. Maybe their human enemies can track their collars for hunting. A wolf was released in Utah, and imediately executed by a hunter. "Oops I thought it was a coyote," was all he had to say to be excused in Utah.
posted by Oyéah at 6:35 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]

posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:44 PM on March 13

posted by FallibleHuman at 7:24 PM on March 13

I am not against all hunting, or even all wolf hunting. Because that's part of the social bargain that comes with letting wolves reoccupy areas where they once thrived.

However, I am a big proponent of a no-hunting buffer zone around Yellowstone. Many of its wolves are accustomed to being around adoring human crowds within the Park's boundaries. A fairly crappy dynamic, when a lot of them carry this trust with them into the states' 'trophy animal' territory.

When packs lose members, especially alpha animals, they often disintegrate, resulting in a lot of young wolves with few hunting skills and no adult supervision wandering the landscape - the kind who sometimes, in desperation, turn to hunting pets and livestock. And then ranchers lose money, more wolves die through 'management actions', and local frustrations rise at having to live alongside these predators in the first place.

Spitfire was an amazing wolf, belonging to a special population of wolves - special for humans, and special for the species. She should have had the chance for her life to play out on nature's terms, not ours.
posted by Lycaon_pictus at 7:24 PM on March 13 [17 favorites]

Last October, in the midst of a lonely and poorly planned visit to Yellowstone, I found myself eating dinner from a can at the Warm Creek Picnic Area off Hwy 212, in the far northeast corner of the park, one of its most remote areas. The day was closing down and the forest growing dark; I had the place to myself. Heard a wolf howl, twice, not far away across the stream, and thought to myself that was a nice way to end the day. A few minutes later a woman came running along the road in a state of agitation, paused near my car and excitedly asked, "Did you hear her?" I said, "You mean the wolf?" and pointed in the direction the sound had come from. "That was 926!" she cried, and hurried off. Intrigued by all this and knowing nothing about wolves, I followed with my binoculars in hand and watched, from the hither side of the stream, as she waded across and went some distance into the overgrown clearing beyond, looking and listening. No sound but the wind in the trees. After a while she returned and told me about 926, a summary of the history in that article, and how the wolf had lost its collar and "they" -- the wolf watchers -- were having trouble tracking it. She was nervous that 926 might keep on heading north into Montana and out of the park, into National Forest land where it could be shot by hunters. That seems to have happened, about a month later.
posted by Seaweed Shark at 7:28 PM on March 13 [25 favorites]

I assume everyone's seen this: How Wolves Change Rivers.
posted by dobbs at 7:29 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]

I sincerely doubt that wolf hunters are hacking state wildlife management collars to kill wolves, if only because that's a lot of extra work to kill something you know for certain has gov't eyes on it. If you're going to shoot a wolf illegally, you'll just use bait.

I'm a hunter and don't object inherently, but I've yet to see a convincing argument for wolf hunting or culls from a scientific perspective. The harms they can create for human populations are limited and you can mitigate or prevent those problems in ways that don't involve killing the wolf. It seems to me to be an almost purely emotional/machismo problem. My family farms and ranches, and I understand the emotion and fear associated with losing stock animals, and it is real and intense, but it's not how we should determine animal management.
posted by neonrev at 7:32 PM on March 13 [17 favorites]

Fucking ranchers in the West...

She was a good wolf, Bront
posted by Windopaene at 8:23 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]

I've seen more recent charts/statistics, but my Google-fu is failing me tonight.
posted by hippybear at 10:32 PM on March 13

In 2010, less than one quarter of one percent of cattle deaths were attributable to canines and other carnivores.

Of course that’s with the predator population tightly controlled. What would be interesting to know is what would happen to the percentage if you doubled the number of allowed predators.

There’s no question that predators are going to attack livestock, you just need to decide how many animals it’s reasonable to lose to them.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:11 AM on March 14

I wanted to share this map a while back, but it wasn't quite substantial enough for a post. Maybe it'll be interesting here.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:30 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

For a related book; American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee is about 06, the mother of 926. I received a copy for Christmas and its a good read.


Here's an interview with the author: The 'Most Famous Wolf in the World' Lived Hard—and Died Tragically
posted by zakur at 5:51 AM on March 14

I wish hunters, in general, didn't turn out to be such jerkwads. A big portion of what I think needs to happen in regards to reconciling a green society with people who need to, or refuse not to, eat meat is a shift away from cattle towards game. Unfortunately hunting has this right wing asshole aura surrounding it. When I try to explain to people who care about the environment (typically liberals) that a single person hunting game for their family's meat supply is better for the environment than the beef they get from the happy sunshine feel good farmer's market, I rarely get believed.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:43 AM on March 14 [6 favorites]

posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:46 PM on March 14

I grew up eating bigos made from whatever my uncles hunted on the farm. I've eaten squirrel and all kinds of New England woodland creatures. The farm is now a deer farm, so hunting is how that part of my family makes a living. My dad used to shoot at foxes from his bedroom window when they got too close to the henhouse, although the only one I remember him actually killing was visibly rabid. My mom learned how to hunt when she was 14. I am all for sustenance hunting and protecting livestock. Trophy hunting is just obscene.

We get coyotes in my yard now. I have small dog. But the coyotes were here first so it's my responsibility to keep my dog away from the coyotes instead of keeping the coyotes away from my dog by killing them. Ugh, that poor wolf, to have survived so much and then die so cruelly.
posted by Ruki at 2:37 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]

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