Jim Peaco; Feb. 2015/NPS Photo

Canyon Alpha Female

aka White Lady

The Canyon Alpha Female was known for her distinctively snow-white coat, which is a rarity in Yellowstone.

She was one of two pups born in 2005 to white alpha female 540F and mate 541M of the Hayden Valley pack. Like the neighboring Mollie's pack to the east, the Hayden Valley pack lived at higher altitude in central Yellowstone, enduring deep snow during the winter and hunting bison when elk were scarce. The harsh conditions made survival more difficult for pups in their first year, so the pack grew slowly and remained small.

A wolf pack’s home territory defines where they hunt, so wolves will defend their territory to ensure they can feed their families. In 2007, the much larger Mollie’s pack began to encroach on Hayden Valley territory and both Hayden alphas were killed in late October defending their territory. Several months later, their 2-year-old daughter was seen with a pair of Mollie’s brothers, 712M and 587M. The three wolves founded the Canyon pack, making their home the Hayden Valley territory of her parents. As the Canyon Alpha Female carried on their legacy, her coat turned a glorious white over time, just as her mother's had, earning her the nickname White Lady. The Canyon pack was often seen traveling the roads in Yellowstone, giving park visitors a once-in-a lifetime chance to see and photograph a rare, white-coated wolf.

Mark Miller Wildlife Imagery/Alamy Stock

In 2010, White Lady gave birth to a daughter, the future Wapiti Alpha Female. Like her mother and grandmother before her, the Wapiti Alpha Female's coat turned white over the years. She paired with 755M (06’s former mate) in 2015 and the couple founded the Wapiti Lake pack, making 755M the only alpha male in Yellowstone history to found two packs (Lamar Canyon and Wapiti Lake). White Lady and 712M graciously moved their Canyon pack westward to give their Hayden Valley home to their daughter and her new family.

On April 11, 2017, hikers found White Lady mortally wounded inside the park. Rangers determined she had suffered a gunshot wound and needed to be euthanized. Hunting is prohibited in Yellowstone, which makes her shooting a criminal act of poaching. A large reward is available for information that leads to the arrest of the poacher(s) who killed her.

White Lady was 12 years old at the time of her death, making her one of the few wild wolves who reach an old age. As the longtime alpha female of her Canyon pack, she produced eight litters of pups, including a litter at 11 years of age. She and 712M were deeply devoted mates for nine years, the longest mated pair on record for Yellowstone wolves. Our hearts ache in remembrance of White Lady, whose long and storied life was cut short by human hands.

Michelle Holihan; Alamy Stock

Canyon Alpha Female Resources


Wolves: Western Warriors




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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[DVD] White Wolf: Yellowstone's Hayden Pack Canyon Pack




Two DVD set by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Bob Landis. Disk 1 tells the story of the white Hayden alpha female 540F. Disk 2 follows her daughter, the Canyon Alpha Female. The film ends with footage of her daughter, a third generation white wolf, the Wapiti Alpha Femaile.

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If you enjoyed this story, continue exploring the modern-day life of the American Gray Wolf.

The 06 Legacy is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting America's gray wolves by educating the public about the importance of wolf populations, raising awareness about the challenges wolves face, and electing officials who support wolf protection.

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