Wildlife Advocates Petition to Protect Granite Creek Wolf Pack

Wildlife advocates file a petition with the Alaska Board of Game to implement an emergency protection for the Grant Creek wolf pack in Denali National Park.

Nine wolves (Canis lupis), part of the Granite Creek Pack, walk along the Denali Park Road toward a stopped camper bus with the Alaska Range in the background in Denali National Park in Southcentral Alaska. Fall. Afternoon.

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by Megan Mazurek

Wildlife advocates file a petition with the Alaska Board of Game to implement an emergency protection for the Grant Creek wolf pack in Denali National Park.

Biologists say the future of the highly viewed and valuable wolf pack in the park is in doubt after trappers killed the primary breeding female earlier this year in April.

"When the alpha female was trapped last year the pack went back to their traditional den that they've occupied for up to 40 years," said Valerie Connor, Alaska Center for the Environment. "They shortly dispersed because there were no pups to keep the pack together."

If approved by the board, the petition would prohibit trapping and hunting of wolves on state lands along the eastern boundary of the Denali Park. Trapping season in the area reopens November 1st.

In 2010, a buffer zone was eliminated in the north east portion of the park, an area where the wolves migrate near the end of Stampede Trail and Nenana Cannon every winter following the caribou. "The wolves pass in and out of the national park obviously it's part of their national habitat," said Connor. Trappers set their trap lines right across the boundary to catch the wolves.

This year, because of the loss of the main female, the Grant Creek pack failed to have pups and abandoned it's historic den site located next a popular viewing area for visitors. "The den is pretty close to the highway system and so not as many wolves were viewed this year in the park," Connor said.

Biologists think some wolves have left the pack while others think the wolves may have disintegrated permanently.

Advocates say the petition will protect the Grant Creek pack enough so they will hopefully return to their traditional habitat. "If the board accepts this petition and has an emergency closure then the wolves will be able to reestablish themselves in the area and by spring might have pups and will reestablish themselves at the den area," Connor said.

Connor says the petition is a short term fix. A long term buffer zone cannot be considered until 2018 as the board voted in 2010 to establish moratorium on all buffer zone proposals for 8 years.

The Board of Game has 30 days to respond.

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