Denali wolf killed in “no wolf kill buffer zone”

Another Denali wolf has been killed outside the National Park’s boundary. It’s the latest of several park based animals harvested in recent years on state land along the park’s northeastern edge.  The kill occurred in an area long sought for protection by wolf advocates.

Download Audio

Denali wolf Photo courtesy of National Park service)
Denali wolf (Photo courtesy of National Park service)

Denali National Park Science and Resources team leader Dave Schirokauer said a Denali wolf was observed May 7th from the air at a hunting camp on state land in the Stampede Road area where wolf hunting is permitted.

“During one of our routine wildlife tracking flights, we observed the male East Fork wolf, which is the last remaining radio-collared wolf in that pack in the camp itself, not moving,” Schirokauer said. “So we believe that wolf was harvested.”

Schirokauer said the area is where the Board of Game eliminated a no wolf kill buffer zone in 2010, and recently agreed to shorten the wolf hunting season to eliminate overlap with bear baiting which draws more hunters in to the area.

”Scale back the wolf hunting season by six weeks in the area of the former buffer, but that proposal doesn’t take effect ’til 2017,” Schirokauer said.

“This was an avoidable tragedy,” said Denali Citizen’s Council board chair Nancy Bale.

Bale says the state should have immediately abbreviated the wolf hunting season to protect dwindling park entrance area packs, like the East Fork group which is now thought to consist of one pregnant female.

”The status of the ban is highly in question,” Bale said.

The Parks Schirokauer agrees the female and pups will likely die without a pack to support them. State Director of Wildlife Conservation Bruce Dale points to natural factors driving a broader decline of Denali wolves, and downplays the significance of the current East Fork Pack situation.

”Wolves are realy good colonizers, so it will, just as it has, recolonize,” Dale said. “Looks like by a pair this year. It’ll be colonized by a pair next year. The pack will grow and the new regulations will go in effect.”

Both the National Park Service and conservation groups like the Denali Citizen’s Council plan to submit proposals to the Game Board to reinstate a buffer zone to protect park wolves from hunting and trapping along the park’s northeastern boundary year round.

Previous articleGeologists look at possibility of tsunami-inducing megaquakes
Next articleSecretary of Agriculture discusses wildfire season with regional forest officials
Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.