Born into Yellowstone's Agate Creek pack in 2006, the extraordinary wolf known as 06 (Oh-Six) was affectionately nicknamed for her birth year. By the time 06 reached adulthood, she was unusually large for a female, powerful, and strikingly beautiful. There was no shortage of male suitors vying for 06s attention, but she took her time in choosing a pair of black-coated brothers to be her mates. 06, 754M and 755M settled into a home range on the former territory of her illustrious Druid Peak pack ancestors.
The following spring, 06 produced her first litter of four pups and the new family was named the Lamar Canyon pack. With 06 as the courageous and undisputed leader, the Lamars would become one of the most recognized wolf packs ever! Two years younger than 06, 754M and 755M were youthful and inexperienced providers. While 06 was denning, the brothers were barely bringing home enough food. With the responsibility of feeding the growing family resting upon 06s shoulders, she proved — paws down — to be the best hunter in Yellowstone. Typically, a group of four or more wolves work cooperatively to bring down big prey like elk, which can weigh up to 700 pounds. 06 did it all by herself — an awe-inspiring feat of strength and intelligence for a wolf to accomplish.
A staunch protector of her family and home territory, 06 was nursing newborn pups when a much larger wolf pack invaded her denning area. Aware of the imminent peril, 06 cleverly diverted the rivals' attention to herself, and led them far from the den to keep her vulnerable pups safe from harm. 06 raised three litters of pups, 13 in total, all of whom survived their first year. As many as 60% of wolf pups die in their first year, so her pups' 100% survival rate not only made her an exceptional mother, but also an important contributor to the restoration of the gray wolf species in America.
On Feb. 4, 2012, the Yellowstone Wolf Project captured and fitted 06 with a radio-collar for scientific research and monitoring. Although 06s scientific name was 832F, the affectionate nickname she picked up in her youth still stuck. A legend in her own lifetime, 06 was a bonafide matriarch and an international celebrity.
On Aug. 31, 2012, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced gray wolves in the state of Wyoming would be removed from the federal endangered species list. In response, Wyoming state legislators quickly authorized a wolf trophy hunt set to begin the first of October. After having been federally protected since 1974, wolves in Wyoming faced the imminent danger of trophy hunting — including the neighboring wolves residing in Yellowstone who were accustomed to moving freely and safely in and out of the Park.
Fresh snow blanketed Lamar Valley, forcing elk herds to winter at lower elevation outside the boundaries of Yellowstone. When 06 and her family of twelve followed the ek migration into Wyoming, a trophy hunter was ready and waiting. On November 11, 2012, he killed noble and gentle giant 754M, the pack's beta male and ever patient doting uncle to the pups each year. Concerned about 754Ms disappearance, 06 led her pack to Yellowstone. Wolf watchers could tell the family was very sad as they searched for 754M. 06 howled for her mate, but received no response. Never one to quit at anything, she returned the pack to Wyoming to look some more, not knowing he was gone forever.
Another trophy hunter heard about the big, black wolf that was killed, and he set out to score his own prize. On December 6, 2012, 06 and 755M went to investigate the cry of a dying cottontail rabbit. Instead of catching a meal for their family, the sound was coming from a whistle and the human making the noise was pointing something at them. The hunter had 06 in his crosshairs. The blast echoed through the woods; 06 fell to the ground in pain as the bullet tore through her. She tried desperately to warn her family of the danger, but her life slipped away as her mate, sons and daughters gathered around her, howling in anguish.
While the awe-inspiring alpha female had risked her life to protect her family through every danger, not even she could survive a deadly bullet. The death of 06 was a global tragedy. As the news spread far and wide, people all over the world who admired her, mourned her. The New York Times even published an obituary in 06s honor; she was celebrated as the most famous wolf in the world by renowned wildlife photographer Jimmy Jones.
The hunter gutted 06s body, and preserved her skin and fur for trophy. While he could brag about his trophy wolf, 06s family mourned her death and soon after, the mighty Lamar Canyon pack fragmented. Dominant in Yellowstone during 06s lifetime, just two of her daughters remained in Lamar Valley to carry on the pack. If that wasn't enough, just six years later, 06s daughter 926F was killed by yet another hunter's bullet less than a mile outside the park's northeast entrance.
06s life inspired millions and her death broke our hearts, but her legacy brings together wolf enthusiasts, advocates and guardians who envision and fight for a world in which wolves and humans coexist peacefully and respectfully. A true icon of her species, 06 leads the way just as she did her entire life.
For you, 06
McIntyre celebrates the legacy of our namesake 06, the most famous wolf in the world. 06 was revered around the world for her beauty, intelligence, strength and hunting prowess. You too will be captivated by 06 after reading her story.
The compelling story of our namesake 06, the charismatic alpha female beloved by wolf watchers from around the world. Blakeslee also tells the larger story of the cultural clash within this country. 2017
Koda the golden retriever moves to Wyoming with his owner and learns all about wolves. 2020 (ages 7-12)
The author, a nature writer and NPR contributor combines science and storytelling to the 300-year history of wild wolves in America. One chapter is devoted to the story of 06. The book critically acclaimed internationally, was also selected as Forbes Magazine Conservation Book of the Year. 2017