December 3, 2015, the National Park Service has published its annual report about the numbers and health of reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone National Park.
There were at least 104 wolves (up from 95 wolves in 2013) in 11 packs (up from 10 packs in 2013), including nine breeding pairs, living primarily in Yellowstone National Park during December 2014.
Pack size in 2014 ranged from 2 to 14 and averaged 9 wolves. Forty pups survived to year-end, including 17 in northern Yellowstone and 23 in the interior of the park. An average of 4.4 pups per pack (82%) survived in the nine packs that had pups. For the first time, the size of a wolf pack was estimated via genetic sampling methodology, using scat
samples from a den site.
2014 Wolf Territories in Yellowstone
The 11 packs with some or all of their territory within Yellowstone National Park included: 8 Mile, Prospect Peak, Junction Butte, 911M Group, Lamar Canyon, Cougar, 755M Group, Canyon, Mollie’s, Bechler, Snake River, and Yellowstone Delta.
Yellowstone Wolf Populations from 1995 – 2014
Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 with 14 animals that were captured in Canada. In 2003, the wolf population peaked with and estimated 174 animals. Although the 104 wolf tally from 2014 is lower, the wolf population has made a slight increase in the last three years.
Wolf Kills in 2014
Staff detected 227 kills probably made by wolves during mid-November through mid-December in 2014, including 148 elk, 20 bison, 13 mule deer, 10 deer of unknown species, five coyotes, three moose, three wolves, one badger, one beaver, one bighorn sheep, one goose, one raven, one pronghorn, and 19 unidentified animals.
Wolf Deaths in 2014
Five radio-collared wolves died in 2014. Two were harvested outside of the park, one was killed in an avalanche, one was killed by other wolves, and one was a capture-related mortality. One wolf was an old adult, two were adults, and two were pups.