Yellowstone National Park’s oldest wolf gave birth to 3 pups this spring

Wolf 907 has lived nearly four times the average lifespan of a wolf, and just gave birth to her 10th litter of pups.
Wolf 907 on a Trail Cam
Posted at 3:21 PM, May 30, 2024

The oldest wolf in Yellowstone National Park, known as Wolf 907, gave birth to another litter of pups this spring.

“This 10th litter has just started to come out of the den,” said Kira Cassidy, a research associate with the Yellowstone Wolf Project.

The three pups are now about 4 weeks old and have started to crawl around. Wolf 907's current den is visible from the roadway.

“[Wolf 907] is just over 11 years old. The oldest one we’ve ever recorded is 12 1/2,” Cassidy said.

“We know of at least five wolves that we’ve captured and radio-collared that are her direct offspring,” she added.

Last year, Wolf 907 old had one pup survive in the litter.

“She has now lived almost four times longer than the average wolf. On average they will only live to about 3 or 4 years old,” Cassidy said. “We've only recorded two that have made it to 12 years old,” she added. Only 26 collared wolves have made it to age 10.

Wolf 907, the current leader of the Junction Butte pack in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park, has also lived most of her life with only one eye, as discovered through a trail cam video.

@scrippsnews Meet Yellowstone National Park’s oldest #wolf - Wolf 907. Not only has this wolf lived most of her life with one eye, but she recently gave birth to her tenth litter of pups. #wolves #yellowstonenationalpark #news ♬ original sound - Scripps News

“It happened at some point between the time she was 10 months old and 4 years old. And we’re not sure what happened,” Cassidy said. “It doesn't seem to hold her back at all.”

Generally, experts say wolves don’t die of old age. They face many challenges, including vehicles and humans.

“It's always some kind of really dramatic kind of death. About half of them die when two packs fight each other over territory. They will also die while they are hunting large prey like an elk or bison, they might get kicked or gored,” Cassidy said.

However, older and more experienced wolves can help younger wolves be cautious of these dangers.

“They can get enough experience that being successful is something that they then teach the younger packmates,” said Cassidy.

Right now, about 25% of the wolves in Yellowstone National Park are collared. The Yellowstone Wolf Project started in 1995, after wolves were reintroduced to the park. It is one of the most detailed studies of a large carnivore in the world, according to Yellowstone Forever, the nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. More work is now being done on the social dynamics of wolves.

Gray wolves had previously been hunted to eradication by the 1920s before the reintroduction.

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AP via Scripps News
8:06 PM, May 01, 2024