Wolf Song of Alaska News


Wolf Mania:  No Need to Panic Out There

Editorial / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / December 11, 2007

Sometimes it feels like the line between caution and calamity is mighty fine indeed.

Such is the case with public reaction to a small pack of wolves recently working the area along the Chena River from North Pole to Two Rivers. They've killed a few dogs and people have seen them close to their homes and dog yards, so the spread of information and reports of the sightings has an underlying feel of panic.

It shouldn't.

The great majority of Alaskans - including folks involved in recent conversations - know that wolves will be wolves and understand that when a pack gets a taste for easy prey that a mushing community like Two Rivers is a sled dog buffet waiting to happen.


That is cause for caution and worry, but not panic. We still can't ignore that fact that no matter how long you've lived in Alaska, and whether you're a wolf watcher or a wolf hunter, it's always exciting to know you're in the presence of these big, wild canids.

A third-hand report of a wolf possibly following a "young person" was taken seriously by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game last week, as it should have been. True or false, we can't allow for a case of "crying wolf." Officials - even if it feels they are chasing their tails - have to allow for worst-case scenarios and inform the public to the best extent possible.

We don't want any surprises.

Wolf attacks on humans have been rare, but there's no reason to set ourselves up to witness such a rarity, either.

The overall tone has been one of caution, and that is what's appropriate.

If, for all the talk and publicity, it doesn't feel like much is being done. Well, there isn't much to be done other than talking about the wolves and keeping each other apprised of their movements - and dining habits. Awareness and information should help us avoid any rude surprises.

Fish and Game has advised that youngsters not be left alone to walk to bus stops and otherwise roam around in the woods but, really, for children of a younger age, when is that entirely wise in the winter's dark hours anyway? Certainly, no one in an official capacity would even think of advising the opposite.

Wolf hunting and trapping season is open in the area where these wolves have been roaming, but that's also somewhat problematic. Setting traps in areas frequented by dog teams and others out with hunting dogs or family pets is not wise.

Nor is it a good idea for Fish and Game to attempt a helicopter hunt for these wolves. They are roaming a forested area. The view from a helicopter is amazing, but it doesn't make trees invisible.

More than likely these wolves will make the mistake of stalking too close to the lighted dog yard of an armed musher, a lucky hunter or trapper will catch them in the lesser-traveled portions of their range, or perhaps they will just move on or regain their taste for moose calves.

In any case, a free flow of information is important, but no one should mistake community-wide information-sharing for wolf hysteria or panic.

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