Wolf Song of Alaska News

Lone Wolf

Letters / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / February 15, 2008

To the editor:

Unfortunately for the lone-wolf (my opinion of the article in the Wednesday, Feb. 6, News-Miner) is that it now has to be either tagged or killed. Once a single wolf, acting alone outside the pack's social group, attacks its own kind, (e.g., a member of the lupus family and a pet dog), it will attack again.

Once this "lone wolf" returns within proximity to whatever pack it follows, the scents of its travels are instantly communicated with the others. The wolves follow the trailblazer.

This lone wolf has evidently developed a taste for pet dogs, probably due in part to overhunting of other game in its territory; not to mention the recent cold snap has given them desperate circumstances.

The wolf has not been able to cache enough resources to survive the winter, and has resorted to being more brazen, hunting in "known human" territories. Once the pack decides to follow suit, there will be an inevitable flurry of similar attacks, just like in October-November of last year, and the same pattern of 1982-1984.
There are only three ways to "hunt" a wolf:

1. You set out bait, but with the slightest hint of human presence the wolf will vanish like water vapor.

2. Mask your own scent, then "howl" like a wolf from behind a downwind rock, since wolves are intrinsically curious animals; however, this requires a person to understand how they communicate vocally.

3. Fly surreptitious sorties with low-stall small-engine aircraft in minus 40 weather from Chena Marina or the East Ramp, wasting countless gallons of precious aerofuel. Something has to be done for the dog teams in that area, due in part, to people being careless with their trash, unsupervised pets and irresponsible, even greedy, human hunting expeditions.

And by the way, ravens (albeit a protected species by law) attract wolves like a dinner bell. Pound for pound, a raven eats far more than wolves. Wolves hear and follow their calls. Ravens get into your trash, or they start eating things left out for other pets, and guess who also shows up ... you guessed it, brother wolf.

Leo Hunter

Comment #1 / dobieman / February 15, 2008

Just a little taxonomic correction or two... There is no lupus family. Dogs, wolves, foxes belong to the Canidae, the family of canids. Also, wolves are Canis lupus (genus Canis, species lupus) while dogs are Canis domesticus. Not major differences and certainly it doesn't preclude their breeding together but just wanted to keep the taxonomy straight.

The writer makes an excellent point about attractive nuisances such as trash and unsupervised pets. You'll note in both the first attack in the Chena Road area some months ago and this latest one, both times the dog attacked was allowed to run loose. Having owned dogs for almost 45 years of my life, and all of my 39 years here in Fairbanks, it strikes me as almost criminal to let your dog loose like these instances. They can be run over, cause vehicle accidents (as in "I swerved to miss the dog"), they are a nuisance to neighbors who may not want their attentions, they can harass wildlife such as moose and even kill them. Dogs will form packs and there have been a number of times in the past few decades up here when people have had ample reason to fear free-running dogs belonging to people who "just let them out for a little exercise or to do their business." Too, as we know, free-roaming dogs also get eaten by wolves and even bears. All in all, keep your dogs restrained and the problems between dogs and wildlife will be greatly lessened.

Comment #2 / dobieman / February 15, 2008

Well...just a correction or two on what I just posted! I gave the wrong taxonomy for dogs in that they are genus Canis, species lupus (like the wolf) and subspecies familiaris. So, by many taxonomists they are considered a subspecies of wolf. The way I described them I had them separated at the species level which is incorrect.

That's what I get for making an entry at 1:30 AM.

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