She lived and died her way
She waited until the warm sunshine of spring caressed her thick coat and then closed her eyes one last time.
Despite a severe head injury that she sustained when attacked by a rival pack back in December (most likely the Prospects, but 755 and his girl were also in the area), combined with a two year old neck injury that restricted the movement of her head, 870 fought to live every step of the way. She lived her life without complaint, always moving forward to the next thing, despite injuries, being abandoned by her pack and lack of food. Given everything that she has been through, we had her much longer than we ever could have expected. But, 870 was put on this earth for many reasons and during the course of her short life she inspired many to live their lives with integrity and quiet determination.
When Rick told me today of 870’s passing, he first said that they had gotten a mort signal on 890 (870’s ex-mate). I gasped before realizing that his collar does not work and others corrected Rick. The error lessened the blow of her death for just a minute, but as I stood there, looking for her ex-pack, my stomach began to churn and tears began to float to the surface. I expected this news today, when the plane flew, but still felt shock at the loss of yet another wolf that I have known.
Later in the day I hiked up to the Peregrines, going to the top of the West and Middle ones. 870 loved the Peregrines and after both of her injuries we saw her up on the rocks often. She loved to sleep on rocks! Getting up to the Middle Peregrine was tough but I found a way via the backside and made my way to the spot where 870 liked to nap. I could see her impression in the earth and tell that she laid with her head downhill. Remnants of a little throw up remained, along with fine fur from her body. 870 picked a beautiful place to rest, with views of her entire world, where she lived, had pups, hunted, fed and played. It was there that I broke down for 870, her sister 889 and my first favorite, 820. The three girls I have known and loved. 925 was in a class all of his own and my mourning for him comes from watching his pack try to carry on. (BTW, mama was back to business today.)
Yellowstone will not be the same without 870. I also mourn the loss of her five pups and the fact that none of her offspring appear to be left, to carry on for her. (3 pups are currently missing and 2 were killed by rival wolves). She made such a beautiful family and cared for them deeply. Never have I seen such happy pups, playing, playing, playing. But, reality came suddenly when rival wolves entered their territory and everything changed.
Watching these wolves everyday and caring for their lives is hard. It is hard for all of us who come to love the animals, whether from seeing them or from reading their stories. I know that many of you will mourn the passing of 870 – I am sorry for your loss.
As we move on to the next chapter in Wolf World Yellowstone, I for one have been deeply moved and inspired by the life of 870. Because of her example, I try very hard, everyday, to live my life, my way and with few complaints. Yes, I am a complainer but 870 has taught me there is a better way.
I pray that you went peacefully 870.
Most of these images were taken after 870 was injured because before that time she never came close to us. The one exception is the one of her and 755, taken February 2014, when 870 slipped off to try and mate with 755.
870 was the alpha female of the Junction Butte pack two times and she lost that status both times because of injuries.