Update: Snare Removed From Denali Wolf
 
Yesterday, Denali National Park biologist Tom Meier and local veterinarian Denise Albert were able to treat one of the wolves that recently returned to Denali with a wire snare around his neck.  Meier (pers. commun.) and Albert feel that the wolf, a 3-4-year-old male weighing approximately 90 pounds (41 kg), is likely to recover.  
 
Per details in the April 20 blog entry, this wolf and at least one other - a young adult black male - broke loose from winter trapping sites outside the park and returned with the wire snare loops tightly embedded in their necks.  There have not been any recent observations of the black male.  He was still missing from Toklat (East Fork), his family group, when I was last able to observe Toklat on April 29 (he and 8-12 other of the 17 Toklat wolves that were together three months ago are missing; more on this in an upcoming entry).      
 
Meier told me the snare was so embedded in flesh that it was hardly visible.  The wolf’s neck, face, and muzzle were swollen.  What appeared to be hanging neck skin in the earlier photos (April 20 entry) turned out to be swelling in front of the snare; this will now likely subside.  Albert cleaned the wound and administered antibiotics, although there was not yet major infection or even a noticeable odor.  The wolf seemed to be in good overall condition.  
 
As noted in the April 20 entry, this wolf is accompanied by a smaller wolf, probably a female who helps him in foraging and by licking the wound.  Meier tranquilized the male via standard helicopter-darting methods, following a fresh snowfall for tracking and ground observations by others of the wolves in this area.  The smaller wolf remained nearby, howling, while Albert and Meier worked on the male.  The two wolves are likely to be ranging together again by today; wolves usually recover and get back together quickly after captured the same way for radio-collaring.  Meier did not put a radio collar on the smaller wolf (which would have made it easier to keep tabs on the pair) because it might be a pregnant female with pups due in less than a week or two.  Drugging a pregnant wolf at this late stage would jeopardize the pregnancy.    
 
The recent observations continue to point to a likelihood that the male was the Toklat East female’s mate and escaped from the same northeast park boundary snare set where she died last November.  Where he was captured yesterday and the pair has been observed several times over the last week is the same area where the Toklat East pair seemed to be denning last spring and summer (Nov 9, Dec 2, 2007 and Jan 23, April 20, 2008 blog entries).  If the smaller wolf with him now is a female, he may have mated with her in late February or March (April 8 entry) and might be intending for her to use last year’s den.  
 
Tom Meier, his associates, and Denise Albert deserve everyones’ thanks for this successful effort.  However, it is important to remember that the more fundamental, more serious problem remains: legal wolf-killing within an area integral to the Denali wildlife system and the severe biological, scientific, visitor-viewing, and other damage (not to mention other suffering) this has already caused and will continue to cause.  
 
Don’t take your eye off the ball.  Go back to the April 20 entry and re-read what needs to be done to address the problem much closer to its roots.      
May 3, 2008
One of the snared Denali wolves described in the April 20 blog entry, sedated on May 2 just after veterinarian Denise Albert (photo) and wildlife biologist Tom Meier removed the wire snare that was embedded in his neck.  The wolf stands a good chance of recovering.   Photo by Tom Meier and Denise Albert.