The Sawtooth Wolves were raised from pups, in captivity by Jim and Jamie Dutcher. 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.
“We now think of the Sawtooth Pack as ambassadors for their wild cousins,“ Jim continues.
“They didn’t ask for that role, but they accepted it with more grace and beauty than I could ever
have hoped for. Now it is up to us. If Jamie and I have achieved anything, people will be able to
make the connection between the wolves they see in our films and books and the wild wolves
they now hear about from politicians and the mainstream media. Even if all they hear are stories
of ‘dangerous beasts’ and threats to livestock, hopefully now they know the other side.”
”Even if all they hear are stories of ‘dangerous beasts’ and threats to livestock, hopefully now they know
the other side.”
Most of us will never see these new wild wolves. We may hear of them from time to time, identified
with scientific detachment by the wildlife biologists who monitor them - “Yellowstone
wolf #40” or “Idaho B24.” They are elusive creatures, appearing, if at all, only as fleeting shadows.
But from the stories, the images, and the sounds collected by Jim and Jamie Dutcher, we have
an understanding now and a mental image.
Through the lens of the Dutchers’ work, forms take
shape in the forest and individual personalities emerge: a confident alpha leading the pack in
the hunt; a determined female striving for the right to breed; a concerned uncle giving up his
own food so that the pack’s young pups will have plenty; a resilient omega inciting the pack
into a game of tag.
We may never witness them chasing down an elk, hear their howls pierce
the night air, or see their countless acts of care and devotion they display to one another, but
we know them all the same....They are the legacy of the Sawtooth Pack.
The most confident wolf and the leader of the entire pack.
The skittish dark female was called Chemukh-Chemukh Ayet, for “black lassie.”
Second in command, betas are always subordinate to the alpha.
The brother of Matsi, Motomo was a coal-black wolf, mild-mannered, yet aggressive on a kill. Demanding of attention, he usually achieved goals through persistence or mischievousness. His watchful and mysterious presence was accentuated by striking yellow eyes.
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.
In mid October 2007, Motomo suddenly passed away from old age. He was the last one alive from the orignal eight. He guided the pack through the relatively fast and mellow breeding season with ease. 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 kept a watchful eye over Piyip and usually emits a growl as soon as Piyip approaches the limits of his rank. Motomo had stabilized the graying process of his fur coat that has been progressing for the past several years. Then 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.
A brother of Matsi and Motomo, Amani was generally mild and gentle, preferring eating, sleeping, or playing the clown to the rigors of jostling for social rank. He was often at odds with his brother Motomo. When the pups Piyip, Ayet, and Motaki were born, he took on the role of indulgent uncle. He had classic gray wolf coloring.
Was 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.
On Monday, November 7, 2005 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.
Wahots was the brother of Chemukh and Wyakin. With a large head and almond-shaped eyes, he was one of the most elegant and photogenic members of the pack. Although there was no way to predict his personality when he was named, Wahots did end up being one of the most vocal members of the pack.
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.
On Sunday, January 25, 2004 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.
A wyakin is a guardian spirit said to come to Nez Perce children during vigils, revealing truths about life and teaching special songs. The only other female in the pack, and subordinate to her sister Chemukh, Wyakin was a light-colored wolf with a playful and sweet disposition.
She was the omega female of the Sawtooth Pack, otherwise known as the lowest rank or lone wolf.
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.
Spent most of his years as the omega, the lowest-ranking member of the pack. Although equal in size to Kamots, Lakota continually held himself in a submissive pose so as not to attract disapproval. Ever the scapegoat and always the last to feed, he nonetheless had a positive influence on the pack by regularly initiating play.
Was 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.
Suddenly on the night of May 9, 2002 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.