New

Scope Rental

Testimonials

Viewing Tips  

Hire a Guide

Links

Gallery

Education

Contact us

 

##

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sartore Gallery

This gallery sponsored by

Endangered America

All photographs by Joel Sartore.  Comments are by Nathan Varley who assisted Joel on assignment for National Geographic.  The pictures from Yellowstone appeared in the May 1998 edition of the magazine.

To own a print from this gallery refer to the catalog at Endangered America

 

GW4UNDERTREE.JPG (123767 bytes)

The Rose Creek Pack

Four members of the Rose Creek Pack gather beneath a tree.   I was present when Joel took this photograph and I remember distinctly the unusual behavior we were witnessing.  It appeared the pack members were engaged in some kind of bonding or consorting behavior.  They would stand side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, and nuzzle one another.  Occasionally they would look up and around at their surroundings, posing for a frozen moment in an incredible formation.  I was exceptionally thrilled to see this, and very anxious to see the outcome of the photography.

The distance associated with the shot did not allow a closer look at the wolves themselves, but given what we were seeing I thought Joel did an exceptional job using the tree to create a fine portrait.  Ravens within the tree added to the sense of the moment.

The Rose Creek Pack wolves shown here were from the 1997 membership.  They include alpha male Number 08M, second from right, and Number 17F, second from left.  Along with 17F, the black yearlings flanking the two grays are from the 1995 cohort, offspring of 09F and 10M.  They could be 18F, current beta female of the Rose Creek Pack, or 21M, current alpha male of the Druid Peak Pack.

What is truly valuable about this photograph in my mind is the affectionate behavior being displayed that is so rarely captured in wild wolves.

 

GWBLUEHOWLS.JPG (26174 bytes)

Keeping in Touch

During a memorable and rare observation, we witnessed the chorus of 3 wolves who newly joined one another to become a pack.  The presence of 034M, left, in the Lamar Valley in early 1997 marked an incredible time in wolf observations.  Over the course of weeks we witnessed the formation of a new pack as 034M unabashedly searched for a new mate.  He has always been the alpha male of the Chief Joseph Pack but has tragically lost one mate after another since his release into Yellowstone in 1996.

In 1997 he pursued the Rose Creek Pack and its membership of females in an attempt to garner a new mate.  His efforts paid when Numbers 16F and 17F, middle and right, respectively, joined with him.  Their associations would later come apart when 17F was impaled on branch and killed, and later when 16F was struck by a vehicle and forced into isolation for some time.

But at the moment depicted, there seems no greater joy among wolves to be singing in waist-deep snow as new relationships are formed.  They declare their unity howling together as the new Chief Joseph Pack.

 

BWSTRETCH.JPG (16565 bytes)

Morning Stretch

At sunrise one morning, Joel found the Nez Perce Pack by Fountain Paint Pots.  They were resting in the open and uncharacteristically casual about his presence.  While Joel kept his eye on them they began to rouse and walk away.  It was then he captured this frame of Number 33F stretching before she went.

Number 33F is now the alpha female of the Chief Joseph Pack, but at the time, spring 1997, was associating with the rag-tag Nez Perce Pack.  Specifically, she was accompanying Number 29M and was thought to be his mate at the time.  She hooked up with him after he escaped the pen and was roaming the Madison/Firehole drainage by himself.  Shortly after the rest of the pack was released from the Nez Perce acclimation pen, Number 33F broke her ties with 29M and never returned to be with Nez Perce.  It was suspected that she did not fair well in the struggle for dominance with Number 37F, 29M's sister and mate following release.

Both 33F and 29M have since gone on to find new mates, 33F with 34M, and 29M with females from the Thorofare Pack.  In 1998, 33F had seven pups and continues a nice existence with her Chief Joseph mate.  This is the finest photograph of 33F taken in the wild.

 

This gallery sponsored by

Endangered America

All photographs by Joel Sartore.  Comments are by Nathan Varley who assisted Joel on assignment for National Geographic.  The pictures from Yellowstone appeared in the May 1998 edition of the magazine.

To own a print from this gallery refer to the catalog at Endangered America

 

EAGREYBREATH.JPG (16502 bytes) Risky Crossing
Alpha male 34M travels through the cold air with intent.   Looking for a mate in broad daylight, the patriarch of the Chief Joseph Pack trots through the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone.  Though he crossed alone through the territories of two opposing wolf packs, this male got what he wanted: two females were seen howling with him near the Yellowstone River the next morning (see Keeping in Touch).

Number 34M was attacked by the Rose Creek Pack shortly after finding two young females from the pack.  The males of Rose Creek fought and chased 34M, injuring him in the process.  He lingered in the valley for the next 3 days, recovering slowly from his injuries.  Near the end of this time he unfortuitously encountered the Druid Peak Pack who chased him and perhaps would have dealt the final blow had 34M not jumped from a high cliff to escape.  The following day he recovered his strength enough to leave the valley, alone.

The females he had encountered finally found him after searching for many weeks.   His story imparts the great risks and rewards associated with being a wolf and finding a mate.

 

GWSILHOUETTE.JPG (22405 bytes)

Ridge Hunter

If everything was going well, Joel and I would be in position at the moment of first light.  This was the time that seemed to have the most potential for seeing and photographing wolves.  On this spring morning of 1997, we found 31M of the Druid Peak Pack, one of my favorite wolves at the time, wandering back into the hills after a night of hunting.  Joel captured his silouhette against a gorgeous dawn of blue and purple, using the wind-gnarled tree to compose the frame artfully.

Number 31M was the beta male of the Druid Peak Pack at the time.   In addition to being stunningly beautiful, he had exceptional personality.   Often he incited play among the other members of the pack, and when they were not interested he explored on his own to find what interested him.  It was during these forays that we often got to observe 31M, particularly during the denning season of 1997.   We would see him go out, find some food, and return it to the den all by himself.

In an unfathomable act of hate, 31M and pack mate 38M were shot and killed east of the park in the winter of 1997.  I was distraught after this malicious act and it took some time before I could move on.  This picture has become an important and comforting link to my memories of this exceptional wolf.

 

This gallery sponsored by

Endangered America

All photographs by Joel Sartore.  Comments are by Nathan Varley who assisted Joel on assignment for National Geographic.  The pictures from Yellowstone appeared in the May 1998 edition of the magazine.

To own a print from this gallery refer to the catalog at Endangered America