Wolves may be in the crosshairs as the Alaska Board of Game debates predator control measures statewide — but a new report finds that the controversial carnivores may be their own worst enemy.
A wolf cull is, for some, “a good thing,” notes the Anchorage Daily News; “for others, it is very bad.”
Alaska’s aerial predator-control program, not to mention hunting and trapping by licensed citizens, claim about 1,250 wolves annually, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
However, studies by wildlife biologists in Denali National Park show that “at least” 60 percent of dead wolves are killed, and sometimes cannibalized, by other wolves from rival packs.
The National Park Service monitors the area’s 18 wolf packs with the help of radio collars placed on the alpha male and female pairs of each pack — the animals most likely to be killed in a territorial battle.
Researchers found that bigger packs, with as many as 20 members, are more likely to pick a fight, and that aggressors generally bite through skulls with a strategic intent to kill.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates the wolf population at about 10,000.
–Lauren Riggs and Newsdesk.org staff
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, February 19, 2009
Anchorage Daily News, February 21, 2009