Today I was really disappointed to read about the possible demise of the Grant Creek wolf pack in Denali in the Anchorage Daily News.
I remember when the current version began to form. It started with a collared female wolf – a wolf I had photographed a number of times out by Highway Pass and a beautiful black wolf from the East Fork Pack that I had also spent time photographing. I was thrilled to see two wolves that I was familiar with unite the following summer and become the Grant Creek Pack. I was even more excited when a biologist told me they had an active den! (This is based mostly upon my observations, if someone knows otherwise I would love to hear it.)
Over the years I watched the wolf pack chase bears from the den, be ignored by bears, howl, hunt caribou and sheep – you name it. On one wonderful day we were able to watch the young pups right after they left the den. I have thousands of images of this pack of wolves – many by camera, but even more burned into my memory.
Although their den was out of sight from the road, it was very near the highway making these wolves highly visible, especially in the first half of the summer. Because this pack was so visible, it probably gave thousands of visitors to Denali their first and only sighting of a wolf in the wild.
By spending most of their life in a National Park, these wolves don’t develop a fear of humans that you typically see in wolves. So when they do wonder outside the Park boundaries they become easy targets. As large as Alaska is, it is too bad we can’t set aside enough land to protect just one pack.
Here are some more wild wolf photos.