Wolf pups plucked from Kenai wildfire

SOLDOTNA — Responding to a report of an animal den with living occupants found in the smoldering debris of the Funny River Horse Trail Wildfire on Tuesday, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Jeff Selinger didn’t know what to expect.

According to a release from the ADF&G, firefighters who happened upon the scene had detected movement within, but the den was dark and the animal — or animals — inside could not be identified. Once he arrived at the fire-line site some seven miles up Funny River Road, the 6-foot-tall Selinger was unable to squeeze into the narrow, root-rimmed den. A much smaller firefighter was recruited to crawl in and five live wolf pups — four males and a female, all black in color — were handed up from the shadows, their eyes squinting in the afternoon light. A sixth pup was found deceased.

Selinger determined that ongoing firefighting activity made the return of adult wolves unlikely, so with the pups’ immediate health and long-term future in mind, he contacted department staffers in Anchorage who regularly handle the care and placement of orphaned wildlife. By the time the pups arrived in Anchorage, a temporary home and veterinary care were waiting at the Alaska Zoo.

According to the news release, the pups are currently in quarantine and their health is being monitored. Initial examination indicated the pups are about five weeks old and have sustained injuries from porcupine quills. Meanwhile, arrangements for permanent placement in authorized zoo or wildlife facilities are being made; ideally, the pups would stay together.

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