wolf that first enchanted Mendenhall Lake visitors last June
now is drawing too much attention, U.S. Forest Service officials
very exciting - people don't often get a chance to see wolves,"
said Dennis Chester, a wildlife biologist for the Juneau Ranger
District of the Forest Service. "... But my preference
is for people to leave it alone and not encourage it, so it
can go back to being a wild wolf."
cold spurts earlier this year that caused Mendenhall Lake
to freeze allowed many Juneau residents to get a close look
at the wolf, which has been spotted on the east and west sides
of the lake.
the wolf has been approaching dogs and following humans.
wolf has become habituated," said Michelle Warrenchuk,
the information assistant at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor
Center. She sees the wolf several times a week.
have let their pets interact with the wolf. There have been
reports that people have been feeding the wolf," she
near Juneau feed mostly on deer but supplement their diet
with beaver, goat and snowshoe hare, Chester said. After an
inspection of the Mendenhall Lake wolf's scat, biologists
believe its diet has been supplemented with dog food.
a wolf or game animal is a violation of state law punishable
by a $110 fine, according to Alaska State Troopers.
incidents between the wolf and dogs or humans have been reported
to the Juneau Ranger District, said David Zuniga, district
law enforcement officer.
majority of people understand that he's out there, and they
do take all the precautions necessary," he said.
precautions include keeping dogs on leashes, hiking in groups
and backing away slowly if the wolf approaches, Zuniga said.
Forest Service has had one report of people letting their
dogs loose near the wolf in hopes of breeding the animals,
like to get people to understand that it's not illegal to
mate (a dog) with the wolf, but it's illegal to have any wolf
hybrid dogs," he said.
have been unable to identify the sex of the wolf, and can
only guess why the wolf - normally a pack animal - is hanging
out solo by the lake, Chester said.
suspicion is that it got separated from the pack for some
reason and has found some easy food and some company from
the dogs that are out there, and that's why it's sticking
around," Chester said.
as friendly as the wolf can seem, it is still a wild animal,
coming into the breeding season and its behavior could change,"
he said. "It could become more aggressive."
the wolf soon will go back to the wild and avoid humans, Chester
said. If it doesn't, biologists from the Forest Service and
the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will have to consider
whether trapping the animal and relocating it is feasible.
kind of like a half-domesticated wolf at this point,"
he said. Such a creature may have trouble fitting in with
an established pack of wolves in another area.
the wolf poses a health threat to domestic dogs is unclear.
Kramer, a veterinarian at the Southeast Alaska Veterinary
Clinic, worries for the safety of the wolf as it becomes more
comfortable with humans, but she and the other veterinarians
at her practice have not seen any dogs with wolf-related health
problems, she said.
the only thing I'd be worried about is a bite," Kramer
said. "I wouldn't really worry about them catching anything
Schmid can be reached at email@example.com