State says no protection for orphaned wolf

Posted: Sunday, April 01, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The state will not give special protection to a young wolf whose mother was accidentally killed by biologists in Denali National Park and Preserve.

A spokesman for Gov. Tony Knowles said no one has the authority to overturn a decision by the Alaska Board of Game, which denied a request by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance to create an emergency no-trapping zone to protect the 70-pound male wolf.

''The board looked at it and made its decision and that's pretty much it,'' Knowles spokesman Bob King said. ''I see no reason to revisit this issue.''

The wolf has been on its own since March 17 near the eastern boundary of the park. Concerns the pup would stray outside the park and into a trap or a trapper's rifle sights, led the Alaska Wildlife Alliance to ask for the 115-square-mile trap-free zone outside the park. The alliance is the state's largest animal preservation group.

When the request was rejected, the alliance forwarded its appeal to Gov. Tony Knowles and Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Frank Rue. The formal request, submitted Thursday, apparently will not sway the state. King said neither the governor nor the commissioner has the authority to make that kind of decision, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The trapping season is open until April 30 on state land just outside the park.

Paul Joslin, executive director of the alliance, said the group will make an informal appeal to trappers.

''What happens if the pup gets caught in a trapper's snare? What would that do to the trapping industry? What image would that send in terms of protecting the state's wildlife?'' Joslin said.

''Maybe the Alaska Trappers Association itself, in this instance, would be willing to step in and do something,'' he said.

That idea got a cool reception from former Alaska Trappers Association President Pete Buist of Fairbanks. ''That is just a political statement,'' he said. ''It has no basis in reality.''

If the young wolf were caught in a trap, Buist said he would expect a ''media circus'' around the radio-collared wolf.

''Where the wolf is much more likely to meet its death is at the teeth of a neighboring pack,'' he said.

The wolf's mother died March 17, the second of three wolves to die after being tranquilized so biologists could replace the radio collar used to track her movements as part of a predator-prey study focusing on the park's 100 wolves.

Preservationists have drawn attention to the wolf because it apparently is the last remaining member of a pack that roamed near the park headquarters, along the first miles of the road into the park that are open to the public. Two other pups in the pack have not been seen since the mother's death.

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