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Declining Wolf Population in Alaska's Denali National Park Should Concern Us All

December 31, 2012 | Wolves

Rick Steiner / Alaska Dispatch / December 30, 2012

Closed-minded ideologues are characterized by their stubborn refusal to amend their perspective when presented with information that doesn't conform to their position. This sort of rigid thinking is evident in denials of such established facts as climate change, the health impacts of pollution, and even evolution. Ideologues feign a respect for science, but quickly discount it when it conflicts with their long-held point of view.

A wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve Denali NPS Twitter feed

We see elements of this same thinking in Craig Medred's recent article in which he blames the decline in Denali National Park wolves on everything except hunting and trapping. Interestingly, this very same rationalization has been invoked for decades by some resource management agencies, when they blame any downturn of a fish or wildlife population on natural causes beyond their control, while claiming credit for stable or increasing populations as the result of their 'good management.'

A bit of background on the current Denali wolf issue may help open-minded readers decide for themselves what is a rational viewpoint on the issue.

Read full article on the Alaska Dispatch:


As an independent wolf biologist, I have studied wolves in Montana for 20 years. The author, Rick Steiner, makes some valid points that mirror the situation for wolves in my state. However, the killing of wolves is happening in our national forests and is completely legal. Wolf managers seem to be the same everywhere. Whether Alaska or Montana, they mostly use politics rather than science to make management decisions. A recent "Environmental Assessment," written and reviewed by all the management agencies in Montana, has been presented to the public that tries to justify their reasons for killing and hunting wolves: increased livestock depredations and detrimental effects wolves supposedly have on prey populations. Their reasons can easily be disproven or be shown to lack credibility, and even their own “data” incriminates them. Yet all agencies signed off on it. Steiner's target audience is apparently open-mined readers. I hope they understand that these are our wolves. It has been my unfortunate experience that wolf managers will do whatever they want, regardless of how ridiculous it appears, until the public speaks up. Please tell these wolf managers, NO! Take the time to care. Contact them and demand accountability and the use of basic scientific principles. When thousands of people inquire about the suffering of wolves over an extended period of time, then things will change. They just think you won’t do it. Jay Mallonee Wolf and Wildlife Studies Kalispell, MT

Its really sad to hear that the population of wolves in our state is dropping down abruptly. It is a serious issue to be taken care of at the fastest. There are so many methods to control the population other than by killing. And a National park should not entertain such practices.

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