Two wolf pups from a famous wolf pack in Yellowstone were killed by a car in the park November 19.
The male and female pups were fatally hit around sunset on the road between Tower Junction and the Northeast Entrance. Yellowstone law enforcement officers are still investigating what happened.
The park’s Senior Wolf Biologist Doug Smith said in a press release that “their exposure to, and fearlessness of people and roads could have been a factor in their death.”
The two pups were part of the Junction Butte Pack, one of the most frequently observed groups of wolves in Yellowstone.
According to the press release, the pack of 11 adults had a den of pups this summer near a popular hiking trail in the northeastern part of Yellowstone.
Park officials closed the area around the den to prevent the wolves from getting used to humans. Some people illegally entered the closed area and others approached the pups when they were on or near the trail to take a photo.
Yellowstone staff hazed the pups several times over the last five months in an attempt to make them more wary of people and roads, but park officials say the effort was never fully successful.
The park estimates there are less than 100 wolves in Yellowstone.
Officials say visitors should stay at least 100 yards from wolves, never enter a closed area and notify a park ranger of others who are in violation of these rules.