Historic Alaska Wolf Pack May Be Gone

The long-studied East Fork pack in Denali National Park may have succumbed to hunters.

Alaska Public Media reports that the Denali National Park's East Fork wolf pack, whose members have been studied since the 1930s, may no longer exist.

All that may remain, according to the news outlet, are one female and her two pups, a trio that has not been seen since earlier in the summer. The pups and mother may no longer even be alive.

The female's collared mate, father of the pups, and last known male of the pack was spotted dead in May, in an area of the park just outside the park, where hunting is allowed.

Human activity is considered the primary factor in the pack's demise, with most wolf deaths in the past year due to the animals being either shot or succumbing to injuries from snare traps. As few as 50 wolves may be left in the park.

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Members of the East Fork pack were frequent visitors to the park entrance area and were once regularly viewed by site visitors.

Famed biologist, conservationist and wilderness advocate Adolph Murie first observed members of the pack in the 1930s and followed up with a book on the subject, "The Wolves of Mount McKinley," in 1944.

The wolves were "probably the most viewed wolf pack in world history," Alaska wildlife advocate Sean McGuire tole Alaska Public Media.

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The Alaska Board of Game says it will weigh new wolf protection proposals when it convenes in the spring of 2017, according to the site. Such moves would be at odds with the board's more recent moves, however. The board has in recent years been supportive of predator hunts and is presently in opposition to new federal rules from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that disallow predator control programs within Alaska's nearly 77 million acres of wildlife refuges.

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