An injured wolf that has been lurking around a village on the Koyukuk River 200
miles northwest of Fairbanks for the past few months will be left to fend for
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Monday announced it will not issue a permit to capture a wolf that has been roaming around Evansville, a cluster of a half dozen cabins with 15 residents located on the outskirts of Bettles. Some local residents and an Outside animal-rights group requested a permit to relocate the wolf to a sanctuary in the Lower 48.
"It is not appropriate to take an animal from the wild and send it to a captive facility in another state just because people have become attached to it," said Matt Robus, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation.
The lone wolf has been roaming around Evansville with an injured foot for the past several months.
While the wolf has not seriously injured anyone, it did scratch one person when he tried to pet it.
The wolf has been fed by some local residents, according to troopers with the Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement. Not only is that illegal, but it is also probably the reason why the wolf continues to hang around, according to wildlife officials.
"This situation appears to have been caused by illegal behavior by well-meaning people," Robus said.
Habituated and food-conditioned wolves have attacked people in Canada and Alaska, department officials noted in a press release. In April 2000, a boy was attacked in Icy Bay by a wolf that reportedly had been fed by humans.
Although the lower portion of the wolf's right front paw is missing, it appears to have healed and is able to get around, according to wildlife officials.
When a few local residents who appealed to Fish and Game to help the wolf were rebuffed, they contacted Friends of Animals, an animal-rights group in Darien, Conn., to coordinate a rescue.
Friends of Animals found a sanctuary in Washington state, Wolf Haven International, that agreed to take the wolf and the animal-rights group said it would cover any costs associated with trapping and transporting the wolf.
The group's director, Priscilla Feral, was disappointed when told Monday the state wouldn't intervene.
"That's just mean-spirited," Feral said by phone from Connecticut. "The nicest thing to do for an animal that can't get food for itself would be to offer it sanctuary. ... That's the ethical thing to do."
The wolf will most likely be shot by a hunter or trapper now, Feral said.
"This doesn't bode well for her fate," she said.
The wolf's presence has divided the village. While some residents want the wolf saved, others want it shot and killed.
"It's a wild animal and wild animals shouldn't be in the village," said Phillip Anderson, chairman of the Evansville Tribal Council. "The boys do have instructions now if they do see the wolf to pop it."
Fish and Game officials, meanwhile, don't plan to kill the wolf unless it poses a public safety issue. Troopers in Coldfoot are monitoring the situation.
"If people stop feeding it and the wolf doesn't threaten anyone, there is no reason for the state to kill it," Interior regional supervisor David James said. "If the local trooper thinks the wolf poses a public safety problem, we would support the idea of killing the wolf.
"If the wolf is found in very bad condition and the trooper feels it needs to be put down, we'd support that action, also."
At the same time, wildlife officials noted that any licensed hunter or trapper can legally harvest the wolf before the season ends April 30.
If the wolf threatens people or their property, such as a dog, the animal could be taken under defense of life and property laws.
News-Miner staff writer Tim Mowry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org