MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — Two wolf pups from the Junction Butte pack were fatally hit by a vehicle November 19.
According to a release from Yellowstone National Park, the pups were hit on the road between Tower Junction and the Northeast entrance a necropsy confirmed the black male and female pups died from a vehicle strike.
Yellowstone law enforcement officers are investigating the incident.
The Junction Butte Pack is one of the most frequently observed packs in the park. Their territory ranges between Tower Junction and Lamar Valley.
During the summer of 2019, the pack of 11 adults attended a den of pups near a popular hiking trail in the northeastern section of the park. The park closed the den and surrounding areas to the public to separate the wolves from visitors. Still, people violated the mandated 100-yard distance from wolves and approached the pups to take a photo. Other people illegally entered the closed area to get near the wolves. The pups grew accustomed to hikers and approached visitors along a road.
Yellowstone staff hazed the pups several times over the last five months to make them more afraid of people and roads. The efforts were never fully successful.
“Having studied these pups since birth, I believe their exposure to, and fearlessness of people and roads could have been a factor in their death,” Yellowstone’s senior wolf biologist Doug Smith in a statement. Visitors must protect wolves from becoming habituated to people and roads. Stay at least 100 yards away from wolves, never enter a closed area, and notify a park ranger of others who are in violation of these rules.”
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