Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Local biologist pushes for helicopter rescue of wolf pups




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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Whether it be by emergency food air-drop or putting boots on the ground, an Anchorage conservation biologist says something must be done to save two recently discovered wolf pups who may have been abandoned by their mother and left for dead.

The wolf pups were observed alone and without a pack presence earlier this month when National Park Service pilots flew over their den’s location in Denali State Park.

Biologist Rick Steiner has since begun discussions with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to coordinate initial efforts to learn more about the condition of the young wolves and possibly coordinate a rescue mission.

“If it becomes absolutely clear that the pups are in imminent risks of death, my proposal is they collect them,” Steiner said, speaking of the possibility of raising the wolves in captivity.

According to Steiner, mismanagement within the state park has allowed heavy hunting in wolf habitat, creating a historically low wolfpack population in the area.

"We've asked for helicopter support to get near there so we can monitor what's going on there, for at least a few hours, to see if the pups are still alive,” said Steiner. “They may or may not be. If they are, then the next decision point comes forward and we'll have to see what the best thing to do is then."

Fairbanks area ADF&G supervisor Darren Bruning said a rescue operation would “not be a typical action to take place.”

Bruning said state wildlife managers will further discuss the issue with the National Park Service but currently no plans have been made to fly into the area of the wolf pups.

“Based on the information we have as of now, there is nothing to suggest immediate action is necessary,” said Bruning.

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