Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hiking with Memories of Yellowstone Wolves

Photo by Rick Lamplugh
I was lucky enough to celebrate a recent birthday by hiking with Mary and our friend Leo along the first few miles of the Lamar River Trail. 

The hike was a bitter sweet experience since I assume that this was part of the route that 06 (oh-six), the famous alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack, took on her last walk out of the park. In a sort of hiking meditation, I thought a lot about her and the lives wolves lead.

On December 6, 2012, 06 was shot outside the park in the shoot-a-wolf-anytime-anywhere-for-any-reason rampage that Wyoming officials had the nerve to call a wolf hunt. With 06 gone, her alpha male, 755M, left the Lamar Valley in search of a new mate. After several unsuccessful pairings he found one, sired the Wapiti pack, and became the first Yellowstone alpha male since reintroduction to form two packs. With no alphas remaining, the rest of 06’s pack scattered, some in the park, some out. One of her daughters eventually found a mate, had pups, and reinvigorated the Lamar Canyon pack. But life has been hard for the Lamars: mange, dying pups, and death by other wolves. 

Observing first hand the destructive impact of hunting on animals I had come to know and respect started me down the trail of advocating for wolves. That path eventually led me to leave Oregon after thirty-six years and move to Montana.

A birthday is a fine time for a “next-year’s resolution,” and that hike along the Lamar River and into the memories of the Lamars helped me find mine.  As I begin my next year of living next door to Yellowstone, I recommit to advocating for wolves and coyotes, grizzlies and bison. 

I created a brief slideshow of images of the Lamar River hike: wading bison, an inquisitive badger, a lovely confluence of a creek and a river, some surprise thermal areas and more. I hope you have the time to enjoy it.

In the Temple of Wolves
by Rick Lamplugh

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