Wildlife conservation groups appealed to the state, which eliminated the buffer in 2010, after the Grant Creek wolf pack lost two breeding females, one to natural causes and one to a trapper. The pack produced no pups this year.
Wolves have begun to repopulate the Washington Cascades. They are rarely seen. The world's most watched wolves are in Alaska's Denali National park. (Photo courtesy of Conservation Northwest). “They want everything. We just can’t just give in to everybody. Every environmental group would like to shut down the whole state, but we can’t do this,” board member Nick Yurko told the Anchorage Daily News.
Buses carry thousands of wildlife-viewing visitors each year along an 80-mile-long dirt road that traverses westward from Denali Park headquarters to Wonder Lake and Kantishna.
While featuring stupendous scenery — Ansel Adams made famous the view of Mount McKinley from near Wonder Lake — the trip is an opportunity to get a glimpse of moose, grizzly bears, wolves, raptors, even a photogenic beaver nicknamed “Hollywood.”
In 2009, a bus carrying guests to the outdoor retreat of Camp Denali watched in fascination as a Grant Creek wolf dove into a patch of willows, captured, killed and then proceeded to devour a ground squirrel. Two other wolves were seen during the drive.
Still, the 6-million-acre Denali National Park and Preserve is home to only about 70 wolves. The Grant Creek wolf pack totaled about 15 wolves. Since breakup of the pack, park biologists have seen only five wolves traveling together.
Denali National Park is a major generator of tourism revenue for Alaska, but state politicians bitterly fought the 1980 Alaska Lands Act that enlarged the park and created four new national parks in the state.
U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, once held his hand in a leg trap at a hearing to demonstrate that trapping is a merciful way of killing predators. Young is also famous for waving a walrus penis at the first woman to head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday she will not run for president. (Getty Images)wounding and killing of wolves into a TV spot.--->
Until 2010, the state of Alaska maintained two buffers totaling 122 square miles along the boundaries of Denali National Park.
The Board of Game, a panel appointed by the governor of Alaska, voted to eliminate the buffers. It voted 6-0 on Wednesday not to restore the buffer that protected wolves from the Grant Creek pack when they passed outside the park.
“In that game management area, the population of wolves, while lower than it has been in the past, remains viable and sustainable,” Doug Vincent-Lang, state director of wildlife conservation, told the Daily News.