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Denali wolf population drops by two-thirds

Posted: November 29, 2012 - 1:06am

A federal wolf count in Denali National Park this fall found only a third of the population compared to half a decade before. The park’s population of 54 wolves marks a quarter-century low.

The U.S. National Parks Service released its fall count Tuesday. The service has monitored wolf populations since 1986 as one of 18 vital signs in Denali National Park. During the last three years wolf densities in the park has been the lowest in 25 years.

The park service has not attributed a specific reason for the low density. However, one theory suggests the recent removal of a wolf trapping and hunting buffer zone along the Eastern edge of the park, Tina Brown executive director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance said in a press release.

“Biologists do not know all the factors behind the continuing decline,” Brown said, “but it is clear that take outside the boundary of the park is a significant contributor.”

The last breeding female in the most-viewed Grant Creek wolf pack was trapped in May. This resulted in no pups being born in the pack this year and the pack’s subsequent abandonment of its historic den, Brown said. The pack has since dispersed, she said.

For more information on Denali Nation Park wolves visit www.nps.gov/dena/naturescience/wolves.htm

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