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Sawtooth Pack: Wolves of the Nez Perce

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The Sawtooth Wolves were raised from pups, in captivity by the Dutcher family. Because of this, they have lost their fear of humans. For the wolves own
 protection, they can never be released into the wild. Rather, it is
 hoped that these wolves will be ambassadors for their wild kin; an
 educational heritage that will help dispel the savage stereotype of the
 wolf held by generations of humans. The picture below is called 'Elder Eight' by Michael Dustin, in the picture are the original eight members of the Sawtooth Pack that started it all.

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Below are the original wolves and their description that I received in the adoption kit. The only original member left now is Momoto, who is now the Alpha Male of the Sawtooth pack.

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Kamots "To go free": as alpha, or leader of the Nez Perce Pack, Kamots is largely responsible for determining the harmony and mood of the rest of the pack. He is the first to eat, to discipline another pack member, or to greet a newcomer. He is not only the largest wolf in the pack, but his personality is also that of a leader with an intelligent, sociable and kind manner. He is playful, generous, and gentle with the other wolves, but aslo ready to assume the role of disciplinarian with a deep growl and flashing teeth if necessary. usually the first to lead a howl, and the rest of the pack will gather around, bodies low and tails wagging to join him. Kamots is usually the first to lead a howl, and the rest of the pack will gather around, bodies low and tails wagging to join him.
 
June 2,000: on June 19, 2000 the body of Kamots, the former alpha-male of the Sawtooth pack:Wolves of the Nez Perce, was discovered within the twenty-acre enclosure in Winchester, Idaho. The long-time leader of the pack was removed from his alpha position in February by the other males in the pack. His death was quick and unexpected as he exhibited steady, good health when last seen by the pack caretakers prior to his death. Although the specifics of the cause of death are currently unclear, WERC (in conjunction with other wolf biologists and the pack veterinarian) is investigating all possible scenarios. At this time, it appears pack aggression may have been involved. Kamots was nine years old.
 
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Lakota "Peaceful Person": is a large, gray wolf and brother of Kamots. His yellow-green eyes are haunting and speak of the wildness that is in wolves. He has a shy, wary temperament and is often alone, exploring the territory on his own. He is usually the first wolf to alert the pack to a stranger's approach with a bark howl. Although he is primarily a lone wolf and the omega, or lowest ranking male, he is playful and very intelligent. He has a strong friendship with Matsi that allows him to romp and run with another wolf without fear of overstepping his role. Lakota is known by his tradmark howl which is distinctive and piercing. He did, however, overcome his rank as omega and moved up to a middle ranking male, getting along great with the others.
 
May 2002: Suddenly on the night of May 9, Lakota passed away. He had just turned 11 years old the week prior. It is believed the pack found Lakota at the same time WERC did. The pack members showed avoidance of the death scene and exhibited unusually low energy with atypical howls. Lakota’s body was removed immediately from the enclosure due to the unknown cause of death. However, traumatic death caused by the pack was immediately dismissed due to the lack of external injuries. Later that day he was transported to Washington State University’s, Washington Animal Disease Detection Laboratory for a necropsy to prove the cause of his death. The initial examination did not show any reason for death, so histopathological samples were taken from his organs for microscopic analysis. A few weeks later, after extensive searching, the results of the histopathological analysis were inconclusive. Lakota’s body exhibited typical signs of old age: liver compromise, joint and muscle degradation, and lung congestion. His body was slowly shutting down as he was approaching the natural end of his life. To complicate matters for Lakota, his avoidance of food resulted in low body fat reserves that were undetectable due to Lakota’s avoidance of humans. Unfortunately, modern science can not determine exactly why Lakota passed away, but his long, not always easy life as a long-term omega, most likely was a major contributor.
 
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Mastsi "Sweet and brave": has maintained the role o beta, or second ranked in the pack for several years. Matsi is a year younger then Lakota and has madea kindship with him. Together they have buildt a non-threating relationship. He is the lightest colored male in the pack and has distinctive, pale golden face and coat. The lack of gray facial mask that is common for wolves, and the shine from his yeloow eyes, form his light face. Matsi has been a primary caretaker for pup (babysitter) in the pack and it is not uncommon to see Matsi taking special care of a subordinate wolf. He gets along good with the rest of his pack and play his role as beta male very well.
 
November 2003: on the morning of November 13, Matsi behaved normally and at the end of the routine visit was peacefully falling asleep in one of his favorite spots of the enclosure. By early afternoon, his body lay motionless as his spirit passed on away from this Earth. He never struggled during his passing; rather he laid in peace, looking up at the sky. Amani appeared as shocked as we who found him. Subsequent behavior from Amani showed that he probably did not detect Matsi’s death coming. If Matsi knew, then until the very end he remained sweet (for protecting his friends from bearing the inevitable) and certainly very brave. Matsi’s body was transported to Washington State University’s Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory the next day to complete a necropsy. Due to the suddenness and mystery behind his death, it was imperative to conclude that Amani was not in danger from a potential transmittable disease. The results from the exam concluded that Matsi died from a significant hemorrhage of his liver. Although we will never know exactly what caused the rupture, we do know that poison and any contagious disease were not present. It is believed that a past blood clot in his liver may have spontaneously dislodged, causing the fragile, dead portion of the liver to rupture. Matsi subsequently succumbed to internal bleeding. It is believed that it was a fast, and probably painless event. Matsi’s body will be laid to rest beside his previously fallen companions. Now, Amani and all at WERC are healing from the loss of our good friend.
 

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Amani "To speak the truth": is a high ranking male and brother of Matsi. He has markings similar to Kamots, with a deep gray goat, although his ears are most often flat out, giving him a sweet, comical countenance. He is friendly and always egar to eat. Running through the tall grass of the meadow, Amani can be seen stopping to roll on his back or to see if a bone has anything interesting left to chew on. He has been very attentive with the pups, always in vuew to watch on them and bring them food. He is playful with the higher ranking wolves and strict with the more subordinate members of the pack.

 

November 2005: It is with deep sadness that we have to inform you that on Monday, November 7, our dear friend, Amani, passed away due to complications from an inoperable terminal illness. After extensive tests and numerous consultations with the Pack Veterinarian and the Resident Veterinarian at Washington State University, there was no humane choice left except to put Amani to rest. Amani was 13 1/2 years old and was one of the original members of the Sawtooth Pack/Wolves of the Nez Perce - The Elder Eight. He will always be remembered for his independence and his whimsical expressions with his ears laid out flat - lovingly nicknamed "Airplane Ears" by all of us that lived and worked with him. His name means "To Speak The Truth" in Blackfoot language. Amani will always be remembered and loved by the thousands of people he touched with his wonderful Spirit. There will always be a hole in our hearts where Amani stood.

 

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Motomo "He who goes first": is brother to Amani and Matsi and a large, black wolf. His deep yellow eyes are startlingly beautiful against the black fur on his face. He holds a mid-ranked position in the pack and is comfortable interacting with all the other wolves. The white flag on his chest is easily seen to communicate submission when he rolls over on his his back under the domination of a higher ranking wolf. Often these bouts of discipline end with Motomo's tail wagging, leading the other wolves in play. He is playful and curious, egar to interact and play games of chase. He's also often alone, far from the other wolves as he hunts squirrels or explores the pack's territory.
 
January 2006: Motomo is still alive and healthy, the last one alive from the orignal eight. He guided the pack through the relatively fast and mellow breeding season with ease. Now entering his third year as alpha-male, Motomo probably has the easiest job of any alpha-male in the Sawtooth Pack’s history. He only has one subordinate to dominate over, and Piyip consistently submits quickly. Still, Motomo keeps a watchful eye over Piyip and usually emits a growl as soon as Piyip approaches the limits of his rank. Motomo has stabilized the graying process of his fur coat that has been progressing for the past several years. Now, he has settled into a salt-n-pepper coloration. Through the breeding season, Motomo was quick to defend his mate, Ayet, even against Motoki when she approached the pair. Motomo has always shown low tolerance for Motoki’s behaviors but now is consistently fast to snap in her direction when she competes for attention from the human handlers or when food is present. Even though he approaches 13 years old, Motomo remains healthy, powerful, and in complete control of the pack.

 

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Chemuhk "Black": is the alpha female, a petite black wolf with gray fur on her face and legs. She is three years younger then Kamots, with whom she has bred to produce pups. Her friendly but rather shy personality shows in how she carried her head and how her ears are postured. Although she is shy, she is also dominant and usually found in the thick of any pack conflict. Her long face appears more slender with her ears back and greenish eyes closed in a timid greeting. She is agile and quick and has incredible vertical leaps in pursuit of a chipmunck or squirrel in a branch over her head.
 
Escape: after over 4 years in operation, WERC experienced its first wolf escape. The wolf that escaped is Chemukh, the omega-female of 'The Sawtooth Pack; Wolves of the Nez Perce'. The enclosure is double - fenced the entire circumference, except an approximate 30-foot section where the pack is usually fed from. Chemukh climbed the fence at this single fence area. This area has extra precautionary measures installed to prevent climbing of the fence, including an electrified fence and a three-wire overhang that extends one foot over the inner side of the fence. These measures failed to stop her. Currently, It is believed that Chemuhk remains in the area around Winchester, Idaho and the WERC. The Nez Perce tribe has kindly offered the use of trappers which are being used in the tribe's ongoing wild wolf studies. These people are experts in their field, and have a long history in successfully catching and releasing wolves in the wild. Chemukh will probably not endanger any domestic or wild animal, as she has no hunting skills and furthermore will probably be too scared to use the skills she has. However, if an animal matching her description approaches your animals, Chemukh can be easily scared away by yelling at her or throwing an object at her. Again, she will not become aggressive to humans! Shooting a rifle in her direction to scare her or kill her will result in severe panic or the injury/death of an innocent, scared animal who is simply lost or attempting to return home. Please contact WERC immediately upon sighting.
 

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Wahotts "Howls a lot": Wahotts is a large, lanky gray wolf. His large yellow eyes are dark rimmed and slanted in his beautiful face leaving the impression of uncharted depth. He has a wary personality, staying at the edge of the pack's activity, watching the focus of attention, but rarely getting involved. His long legs and slender body make his large head appear even more impressive. He has been extremely attentive to the new pups and can be counted on to come between a pup and anything he perceives as a possible threat. He is the wolf pups come to for play. He exhibits unlimited patience with the pups as they chew on his tail, ears and feet, practicing their adult skills.
 
January 2004: on Sunday, January 25, Wahots suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. There was no previous indication of illness, injury, or any other health compromise. He was last seen the morning prior, behaving normally. Wahots was found during a routine inspection of the enclosure, lying in an area where he was known to rest alone. The area where he was found showed no signs of struggle and it was immediately clear that the pack did not cause his death due to dominance displays. No injuries (besides his normal rump wound) were found on his body. As sad as it may be to lose two beloved members of the pack within two months time, both deaths are independent from one another. Such natural, age-related deaths can be expected as the wolves grow older. Yet this is little comfort for WERC supporters and WERC wolf handlers who now grieve the loss of two dear friends this winter. Both Matsi and Wahots will be missed greatly by us all.

 

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Wyakin "Spirit Guide": she is the omega female of the Sawtooth Pack, otherwise known as the lowest rank or lone wolf. I could not get any further information about her lifestyle or the way she acted because her description was not on the adoption sheet I recived back in 2000, she had already passed away at this time. I have looked inside and out of the WERC website to find some more information about her and will continue to do so. As of now I only have information about her passing. I appologize to anyone whoreally needed the description, if anyone does have anything about her please let me know. Thank you ^-^
 
October 1999: in mid-October of 1999, Wyakin, whose name means 'spirit-guide' passed away. She was the omega wolf of the Sawtooth Pack. She had gotten sick only a few days before. In the hopes of making sure that we understand what happened, a necropsy (like an autopsy on humans) was done. Medical science tells us that Wyakin passed away from natural causes. These things happen, yes. In the wild and in captivity, animals pass on. Both we and the pack will mourn for our lost sister, and then we will move on. Wyakin's death makes the importance of the mission of the WERC and the responsibility that we feel towards the Sawtooth Pack sharper, more clearly defined in our minds. We mourn her passing, yet our Wyakin will continue to guide us in spirit. The WERC plans to establish an award and scholarship in her name.
 
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Even with all these passings of the original members of the Sawtooth Pack, the tribe will still live on. None of you will ever be forgotten and will always have a special place in our hearts. The wolves and I will be looking up to you, the stars, for wisdom and guidence throughout our lives and maybe some day we will run free with you all, together again at last. May the moon and sky be with you Sawtooth Wolves, you will never be erased from my mind...
~Kelsey
She who whispers to the wolves
 

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Below are the current members of the Sawtooth Wolf Pack, as of now they are alive and well and I hope for that to continue.

 

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Motomo "He who goes first": as explained above, Motomo is still alive and healthy, the last one alive from the orignal eight. He guided the pack through the relatively fast and mellow breeding season with ease. Now entering his third year as alpha-male, Motomo probably has the easiest job of any alpha-male in the Sawtooth Pack’s history. He only has one subordinate to dominate over, and Piyip consistently submits quickly. Still, Motomo keeps a watchful eye over Piyip and usually emits a growl as soon as Piyip approaches the limits of his rank. Motomo has stabilized the graying process of his fur coat that has been progressing for the past several years. Now, he has settled into a salt-n-pepper coloration. Through the breeding season, Motomo was quick to defend his mate, Ayet, even against Motoki when she approached the pair. Motomo has always shown low tolerance for Motoki’s behaviors but now is consistently fast to snap in her direction when she competes for attention from the human handlers or when food is present. Even though he approaches 13 years old, Motomo remains healthy, powerful, and in complete control of the pack.
 

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Ayett "Girl": remains quite the contrast to Motomo in her leadership skills. Her dominance over Motoki is consistent, frequent, and occasionally borderline over-bearing. Ayet commonly follows Motoki about the enclosure and growls whenever Motoki turns toward her. She even leaps onto Motoki’s back sometimes in a surprise dominance display. This behavior is quite unusual among normal conditions, and is typically met with defensive rejection by Motoki. Unfortunately, this rejection by Motoki only fuels subsequent dominance displays from Ayet. This never-ending feud between the sisters creates regular dominance vocalizations that reverberate through camp every day and night. Eventually, these frequent severe dominance displays from Ayet may possibly lead to another attempt by Motoki to depose her sister. Only time will tell. Ayet is the only member of the pack that has not changed appearance in the past year. She remains the darkest color and most petite among the other members.
 

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Piyup "Boy": on the other hand, has changed his appearance the most drastically in the past year. He remains the largest and strongest of the pack, but his once pure black coat has turned to a predominantly light gray or silver color over the years. Although graying of the fur is normal in wolves (and dogs) as they grow older, Piyip’s body has taken this process to the extreme with now more silver than black over his body. He has changed to the point that some past handlers have even had difficulty in recognizing him at first during recent visits. In contrast to his physical appearance, Piyip has not changed his behavior for several years now. He remains consistently submissive toward Motomo, generally ignores both of the females, and constantly strives for attention from interns and staff.

 

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Motoki (correct spelling) "Shadow": has changed both her appearance and behavior slightly. Although no major alterations to either characteristic have occurred, Motoki has a new scar that slightly changes her appearance, and her occasional rebellion toward Ayet are new to Motoki this season. The rejection behaviors that Motoki has recently exhibited toward Ayet are likely caused by the non-stop intense dominance from Ayet. Motoki will now occasionally growl in return to Ayet’s dominance attempts, but then also runs from Ayet to escape the display. Motoki does not show any behaviors that are indicative of a challenge toward Ayet, rather just a rejection of Ayet’s persistent dominance. If Ayet decreased the frequency of her dominance toward Motoki (which is unlikely), the rebellion behaviors from Motoki would likely subside. However, if Ayet continues her course of intense domination, Motoki may eventually fight Ayet in an attempt to depose her alpha rank. Motoki’s rebellion behaviors may also be induced by the pseudo-breeding season, which occurs in October and November, and prepares the hierarchy for the upcoming breeding season by solidifying the rank order. If this hormonal influx is indeed the cause of such behaviors, then the rebellion may subside soon. If not, there may just be a battle for alpha-female this winter. Motoki has acquired a new, minor scar due to the increased physical dominance displays from Ayet. A small section of skin was injured under Motoki’s chin, which would be considered a normal infliction caused by a dominance interaction. However, the flap-avulsion healed in such a way to create a permanent notch in her chin. This new alteration to her appearance is quite seasonal, as it really resembles a witch’s wart at the tip of her chin.

 

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Good job WERC for taking such good care of these creatures and educating people about their lives and dangers. I and I'm sure the wolves themselves are thankful for your tremendous efforts to protect their species. I will be adopting again soon, keep up the great work!

~Kelsey
She who whispers to the wolves

 
 
Kelsey 2006 All Rights Reserved