Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Idiot Hunter Kills Well-Known Alaska Alpha Wolf

Another idiot hunter...

http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=30508

USA: April 22, 2005


ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The alpha wolf that led a famous Denali National Park
pack in Alaska was shot and killed by a hunter last weekend, causing
dismay among activists who say wolf hunting should be made illegal in the
state.


The dead wolf was the alpha male of Denali's Toklat family, a group of
wolves that has been studied for more than six decades and often seen by
visitors to the national park. The wolf was shot legally by a guided
hunter after it ventured out of the park boundary, officials said.
"I don't think that there's any doubt that there'll be fewer Toklat wolf
sightings," said John Toppenberg, executive director of the Alaska
Wildlife Alliance.

The 7-year-old wolf, which was identified by a radio collar that had been
attached by researchers, was only one of several recent losses for the
much-studied and frequently photographed Toklat group.

The alpha wolf had been behaving erratically and wandering near an area
outside the park where two females, including the alpha's mate, were
killed in traps over the past two months after they left the park in
search of food.

A 55-square-mile (140 sq km) buffer outside of the park protects wolves
from hunters and trappers, but conservation groups and animal welfare
activists argue that it is too small.

Cathie Harms, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game,
said the alpha's death would not affect Alaska's wolf population.

"One wolf out of a statewide population of 7,000 to 11,000 has no
biological impact," Harms said, "It is significant to people who have
developed an attachment for a particular pack of wolves or an individual
wolf."

But Gordon Haber, an independent biologist who has long studied the Denali
wolves, said the "decades-old Toklat lineage has suffered a virtually
complete social breakdown" as a result of the deaths.

Alaskans have long conducted an emotional debate over wolf management, one
that pits sportsmen who hunt moose and other game against advocates of
wildlife watching.

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