Firefighters rescue abandoned wolf pups

Photo contributed by Brian Nichols Firefighters rescued five wolf pups abandoned by mother during the Funny River Horse Trail wildfire.

Dehydrated and injured by porcupine quills — Hooper Bay, Huslia, Stebbens, Gannet and X-ray were named after the firefighters who rescued them and the area in which they were found. The fire crews heard the abandoned wolf pups making noise while working to secure the western flank of a massive wild fire on the Kenai Peninsula


While the names may not stick, the three males and two female pups may survive after being taken to the Alaska Zoo by Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff.

The two-week-old pups were rescued from a den near Kasilof, said firefighter Brian Nichols who was on one of crews that found the pups.

“We actually cut through part of the den with the dozer and just kept going. Nobody realized anything, that was three or four days ago,” he said. “Yesterday, a couple of guys were sitting there mopping up … and saw (one) come out.”

The pups were in bad shape by the time Fish and Game wildlife biologist Jeff Selinger and Deputy Refuge Manager Steve Miller got to see them.

“All of them were injured by a porcupine and dehydrated,” Miller said.

The pups were determined to have been abandoned because of their dehydration, Miller said.

Two medics who were with the firefighting crew pulled some of the quills out, but didn’t feel comfortable pulling all of them out.

“Some had been abscessed,” Miller said.

Several firefighters got to hold the pups as Fish and Game and Refuge staff fed them a glucose mixture to help hydrate the worn out pups.

“It’s just like a holding a dog,” Nichols said. “They were hungry and trying to suckle on anything. It was just like holding a puppy, they’re so young they don’t know any better.”

So, the puppies were taken to Anchorage where Alaska Zoo managers were able to pull the rest of the quills out.

At least one of the pups, the runt, is on antibiotics and is being fed more to help him fatten him up.

“He got a lot of quills,” said Shannon Jensen, curator at the Alaska Zoo.

The pups are being fed milk replacer and handled extensively by zoo staff who are bottle feeding.

“They seem to be OK with the situation, as long as we’re feeding them,” she said.

Jensen said she doesn’t think it will be hard to get them adopted out.

“There’s one that howls, it’s pretty cute. It’s adorable,” Jensen said.

Firefighters have spotted several other animals as they’ve been fighting to keep the 186,862 acre wildfire out of area communities, Miller said. These include a moose and calf, a brown bear with two cubs and a black bear with three cubs.

“We saw one baby moose when we were cutting the line,” Nichols said. “It was about a day-old baby moose. It followed one of the dozer bosses around for a while and then mama came back and was not amused.”

Updated at 3:30 p.m. Friday:

The five wolf pups have found a new home at the Minnesota Zoo, south of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Apple Valley, Minnesota., according to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game media release.  

The zoo has offered to take the entire litter and will receive a permit to house them permanently, according to the release. 

The pups are still at the Alaska Zoo and will remain there until they are healthy and old enough to transport, according to the release. 


Reach Rashah McChesney at


Tue, 08/21/2018 - 12:30

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