Denali kills plan offering tours to howl with wolves

Posted: Friday, April 07, 2000

ANCHORAGE - Officials at Denali National Park and Preserve have muzzled a wildlife group's plan to conduct a ``howling'' with wolves at the park.

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance wanted park officials to try out a howling tour patterned after those done in least two other places - the Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, and at the Superior National Forest next to the International Wolf Center in Northern Minnesota.

Alliance officials had proposed that a biologist or guide would start howling during nighttime tours in the park, and with any luck the wolves would howl back.

``This won't do anything negative for the wolves, but for people it will be a thrill of a lifetime,'' the Alliance's Paul Joslin told the Anchorage Daily News.

But Gordon Olson, Denali's chief of research and resource protection, said such tours don't fit with the Park Service's philosophy of leaving the animals alone.

``We think visitors should get out into the park,'' Olson said. ``It shouldn't be a virtual or contrived or controlled experience. Interactions in the park should be spontaneous. That's what sets us aside from a zoo or a museum or a theater.''

Joslin also has proposed remote-control cameras be placed outside wolf dens so people can watch the animals from a distance.

The technology is the brainchild of Homer cinematographer Daniel Zatz, who has set up cameras at the state's McNeil River brown bear sanctuary and at Gull Island in Kachemak Bay - where real-time images are beamed to Homer's Pratt Museum.

Zatz said he's sure he can install cameras without disrupting wolves, but offered no comment on the proposal.

Olson said the park is willing to see a demonstration in a parking lot. He is concerned that adult wolves sometimes abandon dens that have been disturbed, he said.

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