When just a few miles out along our route to the den north of Slidre Fiord and paralleling it, we encountered a wolf heading in the same direction. It was quite important to see whether this wolf was one of the two we already knew this year or some new wolf. Thus we sped up and caught up with the wolf and stayed some 150 feet behind it. To identify it, we would have to get around it somehow without it thinking we were chasing it. Our opportunity came after a few miles when the wolf veered to perhaps check out some hare sign. We then got a bit ahead of it, and it came up to us.
This was not the nursing female from the den because that female had a short tail (not sure why). Neither was it "Wolf 2" because that one had 2 prominent scratch marks across its right foreleg. This was a new wolf. We could see a prominent nipple showing through her fur, and the animal later squat-urinated as only females do.
As soon as I reached where we park to walk to our observation site, I parked and scrambled up a hill some 100 feet to where I could see the den. During the last few feet I could see Female 1 and pups streaming SW and knew the new female was already within their sight. I put up my binocs just in time to see Female 1, with tail up, greet the new female whose tail was down. This meant that the new female was subordinate, perhaps the daughter or elderly mother of Female 1. I had won the race by 2 seconds!
As we settled into our observation site and watched the various goings on, we noted that the pups were especially enamored of "Female 2," swarming all over and around her. Female 1, which we photographed nursing the pups a few days ago, was lying leisurely off about 100 meters away from the fray. Female 2 lay on her side near the den mound with her belly facing us, and the pups nestled in around her underside as though nursing. We watched intently through the high-powered scope, and suddenly realized that, indeed, they were nursing! When the nursing female arose, one pup was still clinging to a nipple.
So, are there 2 mothers of this batch of pups? True, one of the pups is smaller than the other 4 so could be from a second litter. The only other explanation is that one of these females is a wet nurse, but wet-nursing is not documented in wolves. Could Brutus have bred both these females? That certainly would not be unheard of in the wolf world, and it gives us even more incentive to try to collect as many pup scats as we can from around this den.