Kira Cassidy/NPS Photo

926F

926F: 926 refers to her radio collar and F refers to female.
aka Spitfire

926F was born in April 2011 into the Lamar Canyon pack, the daughter of the famous alpha pair 06 and 755M.

Pete Bengeyfield

When she was just a yearling, her mother and uncle were both killed by trophy hunters, which caused the close-knit family to fragment. 776F, an older sister, led some of the siblings eastward to form a new pack outside of Yellowstone while 926F and another older sister Middle Gray remained behind in Lamar Valley.

Soon after, a lone male wolf known as Big Gray (925M) dispersed from his Wyoming-based pack, ventured into Lamar Valley, and joined 926F and Middle Gray. The big, hunky wolf with a drooping left ear became the new Lamar Canyon alpha male. Big Gray initially paired with Middle Gray, and she produced a litter of pups that spring; however none survived the year. That fall, Middle Gray left Lamar Valley behind, possibly to join her siblings outside the park.

926F and Husky Black by Panzer Gnauck

With Middle Gray's departure, 926F was the Lamar Canyon alpha female. She had always been smitten with Big Gray, and was often seen competing with her sister for his attention. Now, 926F was with the love of her life and that spring, she produced a litter of seven pups. The mates worked tirelessly to feed their family, often endangering their own lives in the process. 926F and Big Gray proved to be excellent parents, such good providers and protectors that six of the seven pups survived through the end of the year.

In early 2015, the family left Lamar Valley searching for better hunting opportunities. They traveled westward into rival territory, and brought down an elk to nourish the hungry pups. On the way home, the neighboring Prospect Peak pack caught the Lamars off-guard. 926F, Big Gray, and their six pups were outnumbered by as many as 12 Prospects. Big Gray immediately saw the danger and bravely ran directly toward the rivals. The Prospects focused their attention on the heroic Lamar Canyon alpha male, which gave his mate and pups time to escape. Though just 11 months old, sons Little Gray and 967M bravely turned back to help their father, charging down the hill to draw the Prospect wolves away. Although Big Gray was badly injured, he managed to scare away the last Prospect wolf and limped away, retreating to the cover of nearby sagebrush. Sometime during the night, 926F and her pups risked their lives to go back into Prospect territory to say goodbye to Big Gray. Their love was so powerful, not even the grave threat of the rival pack could keep her from seeing her mate one last time. When Big Gray died the next day, 926F lost the love of her beloved.

926F was alone and vulnerable, with six pups to feed and more pups on the way. About two weeks later, four Prospect males showed up in Lamar Valley. While they may have been involved in the attack on Big Gray, 926F had her unborn pups to consider and had to think fast. She couldn’t outrun them, so she sent her pups into the woods for safety and faced the Prospect males. After a brief standoff, 926F decided her and her pups’ only chance of survival depended not on her ability to win the fight, but on her ability to win them over. Her quick thinking worked: after playfully wagging her tail, the four Prospect males joined her to become devoted Lamar Canyon pack members. Soon after, 926F gave birth to five pups sired by the late Big Gray in which the Prospect males adopted and raised as their own.

776F; Keith Crowley/Alamy Stock

Disease is an ever-present threat to wild wolves. Mange, a highly contagious skin disease, was introduced into the northern Rocky Mountains in early 1900s to eradicate wolves and coyotes. Mange is caused by scabies mites that burrow just under the surface of the skin, causing irritation, infection and fur loss. An infected wolf is susceptible to sunburn in the summer and loss of body heat in the winter, which can lead to their eventual death. The disease infiltrated the Lamar Canyon pack, and the pups that 926F tried so hard to save were never seen again.

Only one of her daughters remained in the pack. Called Little-T for the t-shaped white patch on her chest, she was one of the pups born into 926F and Big Gray's first litter. Little-T and her mother would always have a very special bond, with Little-T choosing to stay by her mother’s side for the rest of her life.

After three of the four Prospect males died in 2016, 949M and Small Dot, companions from the Beartooth pack northeast of Yellowstone park joined 926F and Little-T. Sadly, in August 2017, 949M became infected by canine distemper disease. As he lay dying under a tree, 926F once again showed the love she felt by coming to the side of her mate to say goodbye.

After several years without any surviving pups, 926F, Little-T, and Small Dot were spotted in the fall of 2018 with five strong and healthy pups. But just as the Lamar Canyon pack was rebounding, tragedy struck: on November 24, 2018, matriarch 926F was shot and killed less than a mile outside the park boundary. Like her mother and uncle before her, the only obstacle she couldn’t overcome was a hunter’s bullet. As her family searched for her; their mournful howls could be heard for many days.

After 926Fs death, the Lamar Canyon pack struggled to survive, with only two adults remaining to provide for the family and defend their territory. By 2020, the once dominant Lamar Canyon pack had been pushed from Yellowstone Park by a larger pack and is no longer a Yellowstone pack. Generations of the Lamar Canyon family suffered from the devastating consequences of trophy hunting. How many more generations will be affected before the suffering stops?

926f Resources

Adults

926 Raindrops: Gift of the Wild

by

Gloria

Straube

The memorable story of how Straube's vision of a pack of wolves and an encounter with Wolf 926F was life-changing. She intertwines the themes of rain, nature and finding solace. 2021

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Adults

Alpha Female Wolf: Fierce Legacy of Yellowstone's 06

by

Rick

McIntyre

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.

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Adults

Wolves: Western Warriors

by

Julie

Argyle

Photographer Argyle discusses the struggle wolves have to survive in the wild and even more so in a world where people set out to exterminate them. She explores what it means to be a wolf in Yellowstone through stunning photography and personal observations about the Wapiti Lake pack and other notable wolves. Argyle also includes information about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone and the ongoing concern of wolves no longer listed as an endangered species. 2022

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