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Wolf Pack May Have Split Up

March 06, 2005 | Wolves

Denali: Biologist asks game board to remove traps

by Doug O'Harra
*Anchorage Daily News (Published: March 6, 2005)*

More wolves from the most visible and scientifically important pack in Denali National Park and Preserve may now be dead or separated from the group's male leader, amounting to what one longtime wolf scientist calls a biological emergency.

Only the alpha male from the Toklat or East Fork pack -- known to thousands of park visitors and closely monitored by researchers for insights into their social behavior -- could be found on Friday by a park scientist.

"We radio-tracked the East Fork male today and saw him four miles from Healy, alone and limping," wildlife biologist Tom Meier said in an e-mail message sent Friday night. "But we saw tracks of several wolves in the East Fork Pack territory, so the pack may have split up."

The sighting of one animal is down from two seen together Thursday in an area open to trapping and down from three seen resting together in the park Wednesday, biologist Gordon Haber said.

"They're getting picked off one by one," he added later.

The pack numbered 10 after the alpha female was legally trapped and killed Feb. 11, Haber said. A request for an immediate trapping closure was turned down later in the month by acting state Department of Fish and Game acting commissioner Wayne Regelin.

Last week, Meier said he received a report that another female had been trapped and killed and a young animal was seen in Sable Pass inside the park with a trap on its leg.

On Friday, with reports that more wolves may have been trapped, department officials said the situation still did not amount to a wildlife emergency. Even if all the wolves were legally killed, other wolves would recolonize the area, they said.

"Wolves abhor a vacuum," department spokesman Bruce Bartley said.

"I don't know how you find out right away if more wolves were trapped, but we don't manage on the basis of individual animals," Regelin added during a break Friday at the Board of Game meeting in Anchorage.

A few hours later, Haber asked the game board to reconsider the closure request. Based on his Thursday sighting, he believed that the alpha male and a 2-year-old female might remain and be able to reform the pack if they could be protected.

"It's not a lot, but it's enough -- in my opinion, as someone who has studied this group for 40 years -- to warrant an emergency closure," he told the seven-member panel.

Early Saturday morning, Haber faxed a formal petition asking the board to consider an immediate trapping closure as a way to protect any remaining wolves in the pack.

The petition will be discussed by the board later this week, after the panel finishes deliberations on its scheduled proposals, board chairman Mike Fleagle said.

The question of how much protection should be given to wolves that stray onto state land outside park boundaries has a long, controversial history. A few years ago, the board closed an area west of the Savage River to trapping but left open the stretch between the river and highway where the alpha female was killed and the surviving wolves were seen last week.

During the game board comment session Saturday, several people urged the panel to approve Haber's request.

At least 20,000 people glimpsed those wolves last summer, biologist and wildlife activist Paul Joslin told the board. Their "near demise" should be seen as a crisis, he said. "I ask you as a board to take it as an emergency and request the community to remove the traps and snares in that area."

Comments

Wolf Hunting in Alaska is necessary for maintaining the balance of the Moose Population. For those of you don't live here, you have no idea what goes on out in the interior. Leave us alone!! You people need to get a life. Most of all you need to post the facts and not this propaganda that you have been presenting on your website!! STAY OUT OF ALASKA!!!

Here's one more fact: For centuries, long before the land now called Alaska was ever called Alaska, wolves and moose kept nature's balance without the interference of government sponsored wolf-control, airplanes, snow-machines, hi-tech gear, and high-powered rifles.

Anchorage and Fairbanks hunters shoot huge numbers of moose, and many of their killings are not reported. Urban hunters' interests are represented by a Board of Game in Alaska that sets bad pulic policy and represents 14% of residents who buy hunting licenses. In a pending lawsuit FoA filed against the state's aerial wolf control program, we've found that the state can't show that reducing numbers of wolves will boost moose populations, nor does the state have good data on moose or wolf numbers anyway. Friends of Animals' members inside and outside Alaska will continue to have something to say about a tightknit group of politicians who contrive and inflate numbers for the purpose of setting population and hunting goals. Until the aerial wolf control program is cancelled, we urge the world community to boycott travel to Alaska. Priscilla Feral Friends of Animals

guess what, the governor needs to get a life. he appears to be banking his public image on his ruthless wolf attack. is he lacking any qualities at all? as stated all animals in the wild will keep the natural balance. it's man and only man who eventually makes the changes.

I'm a travel agent and my desk has more information about the wolf hunt then travel brochures. I will not send any client to Alaska, I talk them out of it and send them someplace warm.

In response to 'The Selfs' ~ You wrote of 'facts'. I am confused, as you state no 'facts' in your post. What 'facts' must we consider? The Fact of Tourism Dollars Spent in Alaska by out of state moose hunters and lonely suburbanites who wish to howl with the wolves? Or perhaps the Fact of Wolf Population Counts sponsored by Friends of Animals? Or the Fact of Moose Population Counts sponsored by the Board of Game? Should we not consider and make our judgements based on type of sponsorship, survey methods, statistical screens, and other biases? Dancing only with the Gods of Science is a narrow minded religion, Selfs. What of the 'Fact' of Emotional Engagement in Primal Nature? And yes, emotional engagement must embrace the subsistence hunt, for life lives on life. But it is arrogant to assume that we humans can 'control' nature. We are merely participants, capable of wisdom. For instance, populations ebb and flow. Human population is in the flow stage, wolves and moose are in the ebb. Surely, if you are intimate with the cycles of life in the interior, you know there is no 'balance' in life. Only harmony and change. Perhaps humans should limit their own population. If those humans who choose to reproduce would only replace their own number (1) our population would stabilize, and perhaps become globally sustainable. Please - share your facts. My interest is in living an intelligent, vibrant existence within the harmony of life as I understand it.

I will never visit Alaska as long as this disgusting event continues. I will make sure everyone I knows is aware of the horrible act. Oh I am sorry, you need to make sure the "hunters" have enough moose to kill. How disgusting!!!!

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