Wolf Pack

I’ve just returned from what was my best-ever winter visit to Yellowstone. I spent two weeks in the park, the second half of which was devoted to my photo tour. The trip was highlighted by a wide variety of wildlife sightings, but the wolf encounters were pretty special.

This is the Wapiti Lake Pack, which I somehow managed to photograph on multiple days over the course of two weeks. My first encounter with them—on the first day of the trip—coincided with the 25th anniversary of the wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone.

This pack is somewhat unique as far as Yellowstone wolf families go. They range much farther than most packs, especially in winter. I saw them on a few different days in the northern range, and a few days after the last sighting up north my group encountered them a couple dozen miles to the south in the park interior. The Wapitis are quite accustomed to using the park roads, which often leads to some closer sightings and photo opportunities. In recent winters I’ve just missed some close encounters and viewing opportunities with them, but this year my luck finally held.

They’ve also been one of the largest packs in the park the last few years, numbering over twenty at one point. On this day, we had sixteen in sight during a snowstorm, which is tied with the most wolves I’ve ever seen at one time (you can see fourteen in this frame). For perspective, most closer wolf sightings in the park typically only feature one or two individuals. I thought I’d share this here since it’s nice to get a rare glimpse of so many wolves together.

Finally, I should point out the left-most wolf. That’s the alpha female, whom I last photographed when she was a young member of the Canyon Pack six years ago. She is the only white wolf in the park at the moment, and is descended from the Canyon Pack alpha female, which was the daughter of the Hayden Valley Pack alpha female… both were also white wolves.

There will be a lot more photos to come of this pack once I find time to process them all.

Canon 1DXII
Canon 600mm + 1.4x
ISO 800
1/1600th
f/7.1

Max

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Max, I am sure that was quite an experience seeing all of these wolves in Yellowstone. So glad you were able to capture this.

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Really like seeing this image, Max, look forward to more of them on future posts.

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This is awesome. I am so sad because I was there this time last year. And I wanted to be there again this year. We are selling our house… so we CAN be gone… in Yellowstone…or wherever else… rather than taking care of the house. We are moving to a smaller townhome to eliminate yardwork etc from our lives. And hopefully that means I get to spend some time next year in the Lamar.

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Love the arc shaped horizon and getting so many subjects (that too in so many different shades) in the frame is real bonus !

Cheers!

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Wow. That had to be an incredible experience. The shot is a wonderful moment in time. You said 14 in the frame. Twelve obvious ones. Guess the other two are the little hints on the ridge?

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That’s right, Keith. Just ears sticking up behind the hill. I did have 16 in view at one point, but with the teleconverter on I couldn’t fit them all in the frame. We saw all sixteen again a few days later, but a little more spread out. It’s pretty uncommon to get them all bunched up together, even like this. And indeed, ten of the group splintered off and ran down the hill to the river soon after this (which gave us some closer photo ops, so I didn’t mind!).

Max

That’s so cool. I get excited there when I get one in the viewfinder. Looking forward to seeing more from your encounters this winter.

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Great image and thank you for the backstory!!! I hope to get to Yellowstone one of these winters…

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Really cool, Max! I remember seeing the white alpha in Hayden Valley years ago, it was so cool. I didn’t see this girl on my most recent trip, but hopefully next time! Can’t wait to see more.

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