The wolf that would later be named “Wolf Number Ten” was captured in Alberta, Canada in January of 1995. He was a huge 122-pound alpha male, destined to be one of the pack leaders for the wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park. He was placed in the Rose Creek acclimation pen, where he met Wolf #9 and selected her as his mate.
When the wolves were released from the acclimation pens, Wolf #10 was the first to leave the pen and send his howls echoing through the Lamar Valley. Two weeks later, the park biologists lost the radio signals from #9 and #10. The wolves had fled the park heading north. Possibly heading home, back to Canada. It was eleven days before they located signals from the collars, not far from Red Lodge. Unfortunately for him, Wolf #10 wasn’t spotted first by the biologists, but by Chad McKittrick.
McKittrick was bear hunting near Bearcreek when he got his vehicle stuck in the mud. He walked out and came back later with a friend. That’s when he spotted #10 walking along a ridgeline, clearly silhouetted against the sky. McKittrick saw an opportunity, lifted his rifle to his shoulder, and put a bullet through the wolf’s chest. He skinned and beheaded the wolf, and dumped the carcass.
Wolf #9, heavily pregnant, dug a den next to the mutilated body of her mate. She changed her mind before giving birth, and moved to a heavily wooded area where she would have more security to have her eight pups.
Thomas McNamee’s new book, The Killing of Wolf Number Ten, tells the story of how wolves were eliminated from Yellowstone Park and then reintroduced. It tells of what happened to McKittrick and how #9 and her pups were captured and returned to Yellowstone. McNamee is the author of a wide variety of books, including The Grizzly Bear, The Return of the Wolf to Yellowstone, A Story of Deep Delight, and Nature First: Keeping Our Wild Places and Wild Creatures Wild.
McNamee will be doing a talk at Red Lodge Books & Tea on Saturday, August 23 at 5:00, and he will be signing copies of his books. The event is free and open to the public.