JACKSON HOLE, WYO – She was Queen B for a long time. Like, record-setting time. Eight years the female alpha white wolf ran the Canyon pack in Yellowstone NP with her mate—a subject known to biologists as 712M. Wolves don’t mate for life, they don’t often live to 12 years old, and a pair like this old couple has never been so famous for so long.
But now she’s dead.
Hikers discovered the 12-year-old wolf severely injured, in shock, and dying on April 11 near Gardiner, Montana. Park staff arrived and found the animal too far gone to save. They knew immediately who it was: the rockstar female that has been photographed by countless visitors to the park.
“The decision was made to kill the animal and investigate the cause of the initial trauma,” said P.J. White, Chief of the Wildlife and Aquatic Resources Branch. At this time, the nature of the initial injuries is unknown. The investigation will include a necropsy.
The female was one of three known white wolves in the park. For that alone she achieved a certain notoriety over the years, simply for being easily distinguishable and recognizable.
As alpha female of the highly visible Canyon pack—which roamed expansively from Hayden Valley to the Firehole River area to the northern portion of the park—the white wolf also earned the admiration of wildlife biologists for its longevity and partnership with 712M. Doug Smith, lead biologist of Yellowstone’s wolf project, once referred to the pair as a “cool story.”
Maybe what intrigued fans most was the fact that, remarkable in this day and age, the wolf was never captured, never collared, never named.
Yellowstone officials are asking that anyone with information about what night have happened to the white wolf contact the Yellowstone National Park Tip Line at 307-344-2132 or email.
At this time of year, female wolves would be birthing. The white female and 712M had at least eight litters together. It is not known at this time whether she was pregnant or had delivered pups this year.
The park will provide more information about the investigation when it is available.