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How Can We Let a Few Recreational Trappers Rob Visitors of Wolves?

Letters / Anchorage Daily News / March 15, 2005

In recent news reports, Coke Wallace (Denali Saddle Safaris), the trapper responsible for the death of the Toklat alpha female wolf, is quoted as stating that her death was inconsequential ("Wolf kill stirs old debate," March 4).

I would have to seriously disagree. The targeting of Denali's wolves by Mr. Wallace and other local trappers is of serious consequence to the thousands of Alaska and non-Alaska visitors and photographers who visit Denali each year.

With the demise of three previous eastern packs (since 1995), for all of which trapping was a primary or contributing cause of mortality, wolf observations and photography within eastern Denali declined dramatically, and did so for years. It may take years for new packs to become established and develop habits that enable observation, and then they have to avoid the yearly gauntlet of traps and snares laid near Denali's borders. Unfortunately, like a game of Russian roulette, they eventually lose, Toklat being the latest example.

Why is it that a handful of recreational trappers are allowed to rob thousands of park visitors (including Alaskans) of the opportunity to view, enjoy and photograph Denali's wolves?

And how does this reflect on the state when it does nothing to protect a unique and valued wildlife resource within its primary tourism destination?

Bill Watkins / Watkins Nature Photography / Denali Park


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