According to Kim Murphy of the Los Angeles Times, two breeding females from a well-known Denali National Park pack have perished, triggering protests by some Alaska conservationists.
A trapper shot an aging horse and left it just outside the park boundary to lure wolves to the carcass, where two were snared. Conservationists are asking for an immediate halt to wolf trapping in what used to be a buffer zone northeast of the park.
One of the dead wolves was equipped with a radio collar, according to the Los Angeles Times, which said it was the only female from the pack known to have raised pups last year. Another breeding female from what's known as the Grant Creek pack was found dead near the animals' den. The third wolf, also snared near the horse carcass, was a male, Tom Meier, wildlife biologist for Denali National Park, told the Times.
"It's always disappointing to lose animals that close to the park boundary, and it also was disappointing because it was inside what used to be … the buffer zone," Meier said.
The Alaska Board of Game established a buffer zone in 2002, but later eliminated it, allowing hunters and trappers on state lands to legally take wolves right up to the boundary of the park, where hunting and trapping are banned.
Rick Steiner, an independent wildlife biologist and former professor at the University of Alaska, has petitioned the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to close the former buffer area northeast of the park to allow the pack to regroup.
"This is one of the most highly valuable, highly viewed wolf packs, not just in Alaska or the nation, but the world. And now they will not have pups this year, almost certainly," Steiner told the Los Angeles Times.
"What we know is if they don't have pups, sometimes the packs simply disintegrate."
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