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“Judith” – Phantom Hill Wolf pack member B326

Phantom Hill Wolf - Judith (B326)
© Lynne K. Stone
When land managers first became aware of a black wolf pack taking up residency north of Ketchum, Idaho they collected a road-killed elk to bait, trap, and collar a member so they could keep an eye on the pack.  2,500 domestic sheep graze on public lands in the area.  Phantom wolf B326 was the first Phantom wolf to set her foot in that trap in July, 2007.

Phantom wolves
Copyright Photo Lynne K. Stone

At first, B326 was to be dubbed ‘Judas’ given she was the first in the pack to be collared.*

However, upon capturing B326, her thick beautiful fur and graceful build was so admired that those labeling her couldn’t bring themselves to give her a name so reminiscent of such a fate; she would become “Judith” instead.

In 2008, at 2-years of age, Judith helped her mother take care of the new pups.  Judith’s ‘nanny’ role in the pack was very helpful as the newborn pups needed constant attention and, as any mother knows, sometimes a break from the little ones is much appreciated.

Younger members of wolf packs frequently serve as surrogate ‘pup-sitters’ taking care of the little-ones while the rest of the pack roam and hunt.  This year in 2009, Judith’s little sister, B445, has taken over the nanny-role.

This January and February, at three years of age, Judith ventured from the rest of the Phantom Hill pack, perhaps seeking out a mate to start her own family.

Surprisingly Judith was seen with her radio collar in late March, she has returned to her Phantom family.  Fortunately, Judith is no longer a “Judas” of the Phantoms as the collar does not work anymore, but she remains identified as Phantom wolf B326.**

Phantom Hill Wolf - Judith (B326)
Copyright Photo Lynne K. Stone

Now with the demise of B333 “Papa”, the Phantom’s alpha male, who was hit by a vehicle on June 13th and killed, followers of the Phantom Pack are speculating on whether a new male wolf from somewhere else will join the pack to replace “Papa”.  If so, will he choose the existing breeding female, or her daughter, the beguiling 3-year old Judith ?


* “Judas wolves” : With a radio collar, public managers can follow a single wolf back to the pack.  When public land livestock are run over a wolf pack’s den or rendezvous site and conflict results, “Judas wolves” lead managers to the rest of the pack where they are “controlled” to appease public land ranchers.  To ensure that the entire pack can be “managed”, managers make sure that “Judas wolves”, those wolves with collars, are the last to be “controlled”.

** Wolves are only given numbers (i.e. B326) when they are captured and collared by wolf managers.

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