The Lamar Canyon pack is one of the most famous of all Yellowstone’s wolf packs. And it was unusual because it was led by a female: the She-Wolf. This is her story; the tale of how she overcame incredible challenges to create her renowned pack.
Her life begins full of promise. She is born into one of Yellowstone’s original wolf clans, reintroduced nearly two decades ago, roaming the park’s richest land, with the most game. She should have enjoyed a relatively easy life. But her pack is struck by a series of calamities, and she is forced to leave the only world she has known, in a quest for a new beginning. She sets off, searching for two things we can all relate to: a mate, and a home.
As a lone wolf, she confronts Yellowstone’s beautiful but merciless wilderness – extremes of cold, and rival packs that would kill her if they could. Even feeding herself is not easy as a loner; wolves hunt as packs… But the She-Wolf overcomes. And at last, after roaming alone for most of a year, she gets lucky, and meets a mate – a young black male. With him by her side, she can finally start to realize her goal; raising a family, and creating her own pack.
But she quickly learns that her mate is not the catch she’d hoped. He’s young and inexperienced, and seems more interested in goofing off and play, than in the hard work of putting food on the table. It’s a situation many women can relate to!
When she gives birth to pups, she must become mother and provider – struggling to hunt alone; more like some big cats than a wolf. And when her pack is attacked by a rival band, she must become even more – a warrior.
At age six – a good age for a wolf – the She-Wolf seems to have overcome all the challenges Yellowstone has thrown at her. She is matriarch of a powerful pack, with many kids. Her mate has grown into an effective hunting partner. But she faces a terrifying problem: elk numbers, her prey, are down in the park, and she can’t find food. She is forced to take a terrible risk: leave the sanctuary of the park and head out into the alien world outside. Here, there are dangers wolves have never even dreamed of. On December 6, 2012, the She-Wolf becomes the last wolf shot to death that season.
Her pack is devastated. Her mate turns his back on his kids and takes off, alone. But though the pack splinters from the loss of their leader, one of the She-Wolf’s daughters steps up. She has inherited her mother’s grit and courage. She finds a mate and, a year later, gives birth to her own litter; the She-Wolf’s grandkids. She ensures the survival of the pack. And continues the She-Wolf’s legacy.
Tune in to She Wolf this Sunday at 9P on Nat Geo WILD.