An Elderly Female Wolf Living At Yellowstone Recently Welcomed A Litter Of Pups, Defying The Odds For A Species With An Average Life Span Of About Four Years

byrdyak - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual wolf

In the wild, the average lifespan of a gray wolf is three to four years. One female wolf living at Yellowstone National Park has reached the age of 11, which is rare.

But what’s even more unheard of is the fact that she was able to recently give birth to a litter of pups at her advanced age. The remarkable feat has broken a Yellowstone National Park record.

The wolf in question is named Wolf 907F. She has one remaining eye and is the alpha female of a gray wolf pack at the park. This is her 10th litter of pups.

Every year, she has given birth to pups for a decade straight since she reached reproductive maturity. But apparently, she shows no signs of slowing down.

“Every day, I expect that she might die just because she is so elderly, but I’ve been thinking that for the last few years, and she keeps going,” Kira Cassidy, a research associate for the Yellowstone Wolf Project, said.

According to Cassidy’s calculations, only about one in 250 wolves at Yellowstone make it to their 11th birthday. There have been just six recorded examples since 1995, when wolves were reintroduced to the park. The oldest wolf lived to 12.5 years.

Wolf 907F is the oldest wolf to have ever lived in the Northern Range of the park. The area has more prey but also more competition from other wolves. In the wild, wolves don’t typically die of old age. Their biggest threat is other wolves, particularly in Yellowstone National Park.

“In a protected place like Yellowstone, their number-one cause of death is when two packs fight with each other,” said Cassidy. “That accounts for about half of the mortality.”

Wolf 907F is the alpha female of the Junction Butte pack. Her pack is larger than average, consisting of between 10 and 35 members at any given time.

byrdyak – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual wolf

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