She Wolf: Rise of the Alpha Female

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.


  1. Christine
    Cleve, OH
    January 19, 2014, 9:26 pm

    I have loved wolves since early childhood and ever since I’ve been searching all media types to satiate my passion for the majestic wolf. This has peaked my interest with its sound and cinematography! Not only that, but it’s about a SHE-wolf! Hah, you go girl!!! nice job Nat Geo 😀 <333

  2. LJ
    January 20, 2014, 1:05 am

    Thanks so much for documenting and telling this tale. I will cry myself to sleep tonight. Such a sad and utterly senseless ending to such a beautiful life. But if NAt Geo hadn’t told the story, no one would know the stories behind the struggles. Thank you.

  3. Brandon Hale
    San Francisco
    January 20, 2014, 2:45 pm

    I was so excited about watching this show, and what an amazing tale of what an amazing wolf. I have to say I was left heartbroken, and angry. Everything she went through to get shot by a hunter. I’ve never walked away from any wildlife show feeling such anger and resentment towards was is often times tragic. Most of the time I feel a sense of peace with the natural cycle of life, but in this case again I felt only anger as the way she was taken, after her beyond epic journey, was not natural.

  4. Shannon
    January 20, 2014, 10:02 pm

    The jerk who shot and killed she wolf needs to go to jail and pay for his actions! Poor girl.

  5. Sherrod Brady
    Weaverville NC
    January 21, 2014, 12:38 pm

    The She Wolf special was bittersweet. It was heartbreaking how this dominant female wolf beat the odds of survival only to be killed by a gun wielding idiot. It made no difference that this wolf was collared and that most likely a simple warning shot would’ve been enough to deter her and her pack-it would’ve been worth a try. I understand protection of livestock, family and pets but the inherent hatred of wolves that these types of people have has been in their families for decades. They literally teach their children to hate creatures that God put on this earth. This must stop and it can. There are alternatives to killing wolves, these people have to want to make changes though. NO ONE has the right to extirpate this magnificent species of animal!

  6. Sterlean Castle
    Springfield, Ohio
    January 21, 2014, 2:54 pm

    Is it going to be on DVD to purchase?

  7. Folkmuse
    Temecula, CA
    January 24, 2014, 7:16 pm

    Video Tribute to Alpha Female ’06 (She Wolf).

  8. Lisa
    Wauconda il
    January 25, 2014, 12:31 pm

    What a great program!Majestic , beautiful creatures that all but eradicated in previous centuries. Wolves should be protected
    This is their natural environment . Only man is their enemy.Hope that hunter who killed her watched that program and feels guilt the rest of his life! Didn’t see the tracking collar?no warning shot? Just horrible!understan some ranchers have cattle and such but that’s the risk you take living by wilderness areas! That show will haunt me forever. Wolves always should be protected for future generations.

  9. Jackie
    Spring Valley, CA
    January 25, 2014, 4:23 pm

    I loved the show and the beauty of these magnificent animals. It saddens and sickens me the way she was killed. How some of these people; especially those in power have gone out of their way to remove them from the endangered list to turn around to see how many they can kill off and putting them back on the path of being endangered and if they have their way and are not stopped getting rid of the altogether. I’m very supcious how almost all of the collared wolves are the first to be targeted and killed. These wolves need to be protected not destroyed.

  10. bob patuto
    new hampshire
    January 26, 2014, 11:14 am

    Very good show but u should be ashamed of how u portray hunters . There r no . natural predaters to the wolf .that is why they have seasons on them .you say urself they had a hard winter because lack of food because there out growing there habitat. Wolf’s were reintroduce by human’s therefore. They need to be managed by human’s. Very unprofessional way to tell the story of this wolf. Or was that ur intent?

  11. Chris
    January 27, 2014, 1:31 am

    That ‘jerk’ shot her LEGALLY. As much as you don’t agree with it, he did it within the confines of the law. All you bleeding heart bunny hugging, granola heads need to realize that OUTSIDE the park, there are people making a living off of livestock. When wolves are in the area, livestock ALWAYS come up dead.
    There will be plenty of wolves for people to take pictures of and pretend that animals have the same rights as humans for the foreseeable future.

  12. KenD78
    January 31, 2014, 12:53 am

    @Chris: Legal does not equal right. So . . . still a jerk. Should not be legal. Many of us are fighting to make it illegal. If we can spend $2 trillion in less than a decade on useless wars overseas, we can afford a couple of million a year if necessary to compensate ranchers for lost livestock. But we cannot afford to exterminate wolves.

    @bob: Wolves wwere reintroduced by humans because wolves were ERADICATED by humans. Hunting wolves is evil. End of story.

  13. Tom
    January 31, 2014, 8:42 pm

    I grew up around hunting – with a father and uncles that survived the depression by hunting to eat. I was taught to only kill what you have in order to eat and to have respect for all living things. As I got older and continued to hunt, I couldn’t believe the psychos in the woods and vowed 30 years ago to never be associated with these people again. I Agee that wolves, uncontrolled, are /will become a problem, but with that said I have more fear of people that would shoot these beautiful animals for a power trip than the wolves themselves.

  14. Tom
    January 31, 2014, 8:51 pm

    And, to respond to Chris, livestock is a worry but like everything else in this day and age, there are many other ways to prevent wolves from attacking your livestock, it’s just cheaper to shoot predators than to use other alternatives.

  15. William Philip
    February 7, 2014, 1:03 pm

    They killed them all off years ago and had to get a bunch off Canada to even have any in your parks. Maybe you should take them off your hunted species list, but they will survive and adapt anyway and like the new coywolf in the East will outsmart man in the end for survival as they adapt.

  16. Dave
    August 23, 2014, 11:08 am

    Beautiful animal the wolf. Humankind, are a virus.
    I hope mother nature comes along with some terrible disease and wipes most or all of us out.
    And what will be our legacy?
    Greed, nothing more.

  17. Katelyn
    October 22, 2014, 11:02 am

    Its such a shame she got killed and the person who shot her should get some kind of fine. I may be 11 but I know what it feels to have something/someone special die or be taken away from me

  18. kim wall
    November 23, 2014, 7:04 pm

    Just watched this special as I love wolves. (Casanova is my favourite lol.. Rise of black wolf ) anyways it literally just finished and I am devastated that bastard with the gun destroyed her. I was ready to jump through the screen and beat him senseless.

  19. Audrey Cave
    February 14, 2015, 1:06 pm

    Thanks for documenting this wonderful story of this beautiful, majestic, warrior she wolf. I really loves wolves, they’re so persecuted and misunderstood. It’s tragic and heartbreaking how she was killed by a bloodthirstyhunter, seems a lot of wolves are baited with carcasses and killed senselessly by human predators outside Yellowstone Park.

  20. Jonathan Richmond
    June 18, 2015, 5:03 pm

    I just watched the episode and very saddened by the events. I do understand the need of the people in the area to protect their livestock and families but to me this was just senseless to just kill a wolf because it is a wolf. I have found some articles about the collared wolves being hunted down by trophy hunters and that is greatly disturbing. Why must we as humans kill just for sport?! This is just one example of why the human race on a whole is a piece of s**t and may not be worthy of life itself. If we can ALL just tolerate and respect all life forms a little bit more this world would be much better.
    Artiles of followup after the killiing of She Wolf about the rest of her pack and other collared wolves near Yellowstone.

  21. […] alpha female of Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Canyon pack, a wolf that had been profiled in National Geographic and eulogized in The New York Times as the poster child of the success of the Endangered Species […]

  22. […] alpha female of Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Canyon pack, a wolf that had been profiled in National Geographic and eulogized in The New York Times as the poster child of the success of the Endangered Species […]

  23. […] alpha female of Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Canyon pack, a wolf that had been profiled in National Geographic and eulogized in The New York Times as the poster child of the success of the Endangered Species […]

  24. Esther
    Oklahoma USA
    November 30, 2016, 3:08 pm

    Does anyone know where I can purchase this DVD? I have searched the internet & cannot find it. If it is not on DVD, it should be !!!!

  25. chris jensen
    April 6, 9:09 am

    Dear All,

    I would love to get to the video of this sad documentary by the name of “She Wolf: Rise of the Alpha Female”…Anyone who can help me with this? Thanks,