Wolves With Pups Open To Hunting Inside Denali National Park On September 1: Two Key Points
 
Two points warrant clarification and repeated emphasis for an understanding of the Kantishna “subsistence” wolf-hunting issue (Aug 16 blog). Both are easily misinterpreted and overlooked.  
 
First, Denali wolves move their pups unpredictably, especially in August and September. They might continue provisioning the pups at only 1-2 rendezvous sites or at a combination of rendezvous sites and a secondary den. They might return the pups to the natal den or another site they used earlier in the summer. Or they might simply move them to a fresh kill.  I have observed all of these and other variations in Denali (e.g., Haber 1977). The older wolves continue foraging over large areas of the established territory almost daily for the pups, wherever they decide to base them (except at a kill). Go to the references I provided in the August 16 entry to see maps of Swift Northeast’s territory and for related details (go to the link at the bottom left of the Alaska Wolves page for details on where to find the 1977 reference, above).
 
In other words, it would not be surprising for the Swift Northeast wolves to move their pups to another location before September 1, away from the popular subsistence moose-hunting area where they were based when I observed them on August 11 (and in other years).  But this would not eliminate risks from the upcoming September 1 hunt. As they have done in the past, the older wolves would likely continue traveling to and through the highest risk areas of their territory while foraging for the pups. The dominant Swift Northeast female, probably the most important wolf in the group, would be an easily spotted and especially tempting target for the September hunters because of her light coloration. Even if the wolves moved the pups to a location, say, 10 miles (16 km) away, it would take an adult on a subsequent foraging trip less than two hours to be right back in the most dangerous areas.  
 
Thus, dependent pups being provisioned at a distant homesite would still be at risk because of continuing risks to the older wolves. If the older wolves killed a caribou inside one of the preferred subsistence hunting areas (which cover much of the Kantishna-Moose Creek area), they would be more likely to move the pups to the kill. If this happened shortly before the September hunt, the pups as well as the older wolves would be at risk of getting shot long before NPS could respond or even know about the move.    
 
Second, Denali superintendent Paul Anderson and other officials often claim they can do nothing to close this area to wolf hunting, because of the narrow requirements that the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) specifies for hunting closures. They are wrong, as is explained, for example, in the first letter at the link in the second paragraph of the August 16 blog entry. Superintendent Anderson is required to manage Denali National Park in accordance with various statutes, not just ANILCA, and ANILCA itself provides other directives that he is overlooking (e.g., via the Denali general management plan mandated in Section 1301). Moreover, the fact that wolves and their pups do not have a legitimate subsistence value on September 1 by itself provides instant remedies that are available for illegal activities of many kinds, anywhere inside the park/preserve: ANILCA authorizes the Kantishna hunt only for subsistence purposes.
 
Please help via the recommendations in the “What To Do” section of the August 16 entry.
Aug 18, 2009
The dominant female (asleep) and another wolf of the Swift Northeast family group in an area of Denali National Park where hunters could be allowed to shoot wolves as of September 1.  August 2009.