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REMEMBERING FAMOUS WOLVES

4. O-SIX

O-six was an alpha female of one of the most-seen packs in Yellowstone. In the year 2009, she became one of the ‘wolf watchers’ favorite wolves to watch out on the wild landscape when she was a lone wolf at the time. 0-Six was first spotted in Lamar Valley where she was mating with many different males. Wolf watchers described her as a “once-in-a-generation hunter”—as she infrequently hunted and her mate was the adventurous one. Each time a wolf is chasing an elk, they suffer the risk of getting kicked. Although, sometimes when she did hunt, she developed a talent for being able to take the elk down herself. O-Six weighed 100 pounds—which is unusually large for a female wolf.


She was also very efficient when it came to hunting as she could bring down an elk without any assistance… There has even been a book written about her called ‘American Wolf’ It depicts her journey across Yellowstone and her amazing talents.


06 was also the most photographed wolf in Yellowstone and described as a ‘rock star’ by wolf watchers. One day, O-Six was captured and had a radio collar placed around her neck so the wolf watchers could monitor her. The collar number was 832F. And with male wolf 755M, she delivered a litter of three pups. In December of 2012—which was wolf hunting season, O-Six went outside the park’s boundary where she was shot and killed. O-Six (832F) was known as ‘the most famous wolf in the world.’ her death upset many people and stirred debate. The alpha female will always be remembered as a true legend…



O-Six Photo by: Doug McLaughlin


3. OR-7

OR-7, also known as ‘Journey’ was born in 2009 and weighed about 90 pounds—which is a bit small for the average male wolf which weighs about 150 pounds. tracked for most of his life. He migrated to the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon. After he dispersed (left) from his pack in 2011, he traveled over 1,000 miles from Oregon to California. In 2014, he was found near the Rogue River with a mate. No one really knows how the two wolves met, but some tests we have done and it was proved that the female was related to several of the 8 packs in the area. In 2015, the two wolves were presumed to have mated—and their pack was now known as “The Rouge Pack.” This was the first wolf pack in western Oregon since the nine lone wolves were seen wandering the state in the 1990s.


In late 2015, the people tracking OR-7 and his pack had to rely on trail cameras due to his radio collar’s batteries expiring. In 2020, OR-7 had not been observed. On account of this, the wolf was presumed to be dead. There is no proof that he was killed, and he was 11 years old—so people believe the cause of his death would be old age. OR-7 and his mate had a litter of 7 pups—some of them being captured on the trail cameras. Journey was a wolf known for his long travels (over 1,000 miles) and his pure beauty. There has even been a movie and a book created for him in recognition of this amazing lobo. I have read the book myself. It is such a heartwarming and emotional story. The book is titled ‘A Wolf Called Wander’


Photo by: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife


2. SPITFIRE

Spitfire, (926F) was a very popular wolf in Yellowstone National Park. She was born in 2011 in the Lamar River Valley. She was a small, black wolf, and the founder of the Lamar Canyon Pack. She was the granddaughter of another wolf, (‘9) who was one of the first wolves anyone has ever seen in Alberta, Canada—and that was introduced to Yellowstone in 1995. At just a few months old, Spitfire’s pack was attacked by a pack of over 15 wolves, known as the Mollies. Thankfully, Spitfire and her older sister and mother were able to save her pups. in 2012, her pack was following elk outside the boundaries of Yellowstone where her mate was killed by hunters. Following this, her mother was also killed. This left her, her father, and her older siblings the only wolves left in the pack. But then, her father departed from the pack in search of a new mate. After this, Spitfire’s oldest sister was paired with a male wolf known as 925M.


However, Spitfire won the affection by 925M, and they became mates in 2013. And in 2014, Spitfire and 925M had their first litter of pups, consisting of 6. One of the pups even got a name—Little T. But due to a very severe case of mange, Little T died when he was only one year old. Spitfire had had another litter, and “Dot” was the only pup that survived the winter. In March 2015, the pack was feeding their pups, and 925M lead the pack back to their home grounds where he was attacked by another wolf. Sadly, he died from his injuries. Spitfire stood her ground against the largest of the four wolves that killed her mate. They were both snarling at each other—and because of her size, she would not stand a chance. But, then, the two wolves began to wag their tails—and just like that, they had become mates.


Although, in 2017, her new mate died of an unknown illness, but due to the ways the rest of the pack died, it was likely mange. Because of all she had been through, she was called “The little wolf who could” and “The Queen of Wolves” But…in 2018, Spitfire, the wolf who had endured so much, was shot and killed. She had only crossed one mile outside the Yellowstone perimeter. The hunter took her body home and skinned her. This is a very sad and tragic story—many people (such as myself) were devastated to hear this news. Spitfire will always carry a legacy with her long journey and rough experiences. She truly was The Little Wolf Who Could.


Photo by: Deby Dixon


ROMEO

In 2003, a black wolf was spotted in Juneau, Alaska. But the wolf showed no sign of aggression like the town suspected. Instead, he wanted a friendly interaction this the people and their dogs. Nick Jans, a former hunter (and now wildlife photographer) first discovered the wolf by his tracks.


Soon, he was seen in person—and described as one of the largest wolves the town had ever come across. One morning, Nick’s pet dog approached the jet-black wolf. Of course, Nick was terrified. But instead of a brutal fight breaking out, The wolf began to wag his tail and play bow. Then, the two animals ran around and played like they’d known each other for years! This kind of behavior was very remarkable for a wolf. Normally, wolves and dogs are known to be rivals. Because of his sociable behavior towards the dogs, and because he delivered a friendly demeanor towards the people too, he got the nickname ‘Romeo’ since he proliced along with the doggies and showed devotion to a particular labrador who was his ‘Juliet”. He even showed affection to the children of Juneau. These interactions were shared with millions across the world, and they fell equally in love.


But the most amazing thing about Romeo was that he was completely relaxed around the townspeople—because wolves are typically fearful of humans. Every day the wolf would come back to visit the town and play with the dogs. Romeo was also quite the romantic male, often seen touching noses with his Juliet; the yellow labrador. Like in the folktales, (The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Peter, and the Wolf, etc) paint wolves as evil, blood-thirsty monsters. Although, this story proves it all wrong. Each day, the people would say things like “I’m going to the lake to see that Romeo wolf" again.” For six years, the wolf visited the town.


But one day, he stopped coming back. People began to be concerned for Romeo as he was not there. A supporter of Romeo went on a search for him and found his body later that morning. He was shot and killed by poachers. The poachers’ names were: Myers III and Jeff Peacock. The two were arrested a few days later for illegally killing Romeo. When the news broke, people were extremely devastated and angry that their companion was brutally killed. This might be the most emotional story out of all stories. Since Romeo was such a popular wolf, Nick wrote a book for him, made a memorial plaque for him, and each time the book is read, many cried—remembering this amazing and beautiful wolf. Romeo will always be remembered as a legacy and the world’s friendliest wolf. R.I.P, Romeo…I will miss you, along with all your friends…



Photo credit: Nick Jans, 2023

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