MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — Wolf biologists with Yellowstone National Park say the Junction Butte Pack, made up of 27 wolves, lost three to Montana hunters during the first week of hunting season. Recent overflights conducted by the park confirmed the pack size has been reduced to 24 animals, with two female pups and one female yearling lost.
The three wolves were killed outside of Yellowstone in the general area of where the pack was traveling in mid-September, according to a news release. The Junction Butte Pack is located in Yellowstone's northern range and was formed in 2012.
The pack is the most observed pack in Yellowstone because they den within view of the Northeast Entrance Road and the road to Slough Creek Campground. Yellowstone says the pack had eight pups in 2021.
Park officials say Yellowstone wolves in the northern range spend an estimated 5% of the time outside the park, usually in late fall. For over ten years, Montana has limited the number of wolves taken from Montana wolf management units 313 and 316, which are adjacent to the park's northern boundary.
98% of wolves in Montana are outside units 313 and 316. Recent changes to hunting and trapping have lifted restrictions in these units, making Yellowstone's wolf population in the northern range more vulnerable, according to the release.
Montana has also authorized baiting from private property. Over 33% of the boundary Yellowstone shares with Montana is within one mile of private property, where baiting is now allowed.