The attached image is of a wolf that was snared just outside the park, but it was
able to break the snare loose from the brush, that the snare was attached to. In
so doing it dragged the snare from its neck, causing the injury that you see in the
photo. The wolf was snared just outside the park (the targeting of park wolves) and
came into the park and NPS darted, removed the snare, and gave the wolf antibiotics
and then released it.
Denali Wolves Wearing Snares
Escaped animals are roaming free with devices
caught on necks.
By MARY PEMBERTON
The Associated Press
Published: April 25th, 2008 12:27 AM
The wolves were legally trapped this winter on state land outside the park. The two,
a large gray wolf and a smaller black one, escaped the traps and returned recently
to Denali, their faces and necks swollen from the embedded snares. The large gray
has a neck wound where the snare has cut into the muscle, creating a flap of skin
that hangs down. The black wolf's face is so swollen he now resembles a bear.
Snares are normally made of metal cable in the shape of a loop that cinches tighter
as the animal tries to pull free. It's not known exactly how they escaped, but the
cables could have broken or the wolves could have chewed through them.
Denali is expecting at least 458,000 visitors this year, with many of them arriving
in droves beginning in mid-May. Visitors normally board buses that travel the park
road in an area where the famed Toklat pack tends to stay. The black wolf is a member
of that pack. "Trapping and snaring are certainly legal outside the park but it needs
to be done well," park spokeswoman Kris Fister said Thursday. "We feel it shouldn't
Gordon Haber, a private wildlife biologist who has studied Denali's wolves for decades,
said the black one was a beautiful, glossy-coated wolf, until his face and neck swelled
up. "To see him like this now is just disgusting," Haber said. "People come up here
expecting to see wolves in the wild and see this. It is a real shocker, or will be."
The 6 million-acre national park has about 100 wolves in 18 packs. While no trapping
is allowed in the park, it is legal on state lands outside the park. Trappers sell
Problems for the wolves arise on the park's northeast boundary. The area is the traditional
wintering grounds for caribou, moose and sheep. Hungry wolves head there in winter.
"They just go right in that area and unbeknownst to them ... the trappers are waiting
and they are caught," Haber said.
At least three trap lines were set this winter outside the northeast boundary and
outside a no-trapping buffer zone created to afford the wolves greater protection.
As many as 19 wolves have been trapped there, including four radio-collared wolves,
Haber said. One of the Toklat wolves wears a radio collar that provides positioning
information every morning. Seventeen wolves were in the group when it headed for
the prey-rich area beyond the park boundary in February for a few days. Only 10 returned,
Haber said.The black one rejoined the group in March. "The only one that ever showed
up again was the black one with the snare," he said.
Denali park biologists have been wanting to remove the snares but so far they have
had no luck. A couple of times biologists have rushed to an area, only to find the
wolves gone, said Pat Owen, a park wildlife biologist. Fister said if visitors see
the wolves and ask what's wrong with them, park employees will give them a straight
answer, but only if they ask. "We are not going to put a billboard up or anything,"
Fister said. Haber said he last photographed the gray wolf on March 29. The black
wolf has not been seen since March 14. Neither wolf is wearing a radio collar.
The park received a report Tuesday that the gray wolf was about seven miles from
the park headquarters building along the park road. Again, by the time biologists
arrived, all they found were tracks. Both wolves, despite the snares, look to be
in good shape, Owen said.
Haber is concerned about the gross swelling of the black wolf's head and neck. The
snare on the other wolf is deep into its neck, he said. "Just imagine going around
with a snare tightly embedded in your neck muscle," he said.