Denali's Tame Wolves


Denali's "Tame" Wolves



These early reports cast a new light on “habituation.” And the current behavior and reaction of wolves and other park wildlife to people:


1902, “There was no sport in hunting such innocently tame creatures, and we never molested them except when we needed meat,” Brooks said, providing the first description of the region’s animals. (Brooks, A.H., Blazing Alaska's Trails, University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks 1953; Baker, Marcus, Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, 1902)

1903, a bold wolf visited Doctor Frederick Cook’s climbing camp and left unmolested.

1904, “Sheep are born with a tame nature...(but) the nature of the Yukon mountain sheep is wild. The ewes are much tamer than the rams, and it is a strange that the watchful animals can be approached the most easily.”  

1922, “A shame to shoot such tame creatures.”  Adolph Murie in Wood River:

Nov 27, 1925 “Fox are getting very tame and in some cases almost friendly.”

December 1925.  “Armstrong on patrol, followed by a wolf for 11 miles. Once approached within 100’.”  

1925, “The great amount of blasting and noise along the Park Road has not affected (the sheep)," Harry Karstens reported. "If anything, they are more tame than ever, for a very large band of sheep ranges all the summer close to where the road crews were working." Lambing seemed unaffected with a "50% increase in the Dall sheep" expected in the spring of 1927.

1925, “ARC saw two big wolves near the park highway at about mile 8, they were probably about 200’ away and never moved while the men passed by.”

1926, “Ranger Nyberg reports innumerable bands on all the hills in the western and northwestern section of the park. In all instances the mountain sheep were very tame and did not seem to mind the presence of dogs nor man in their presence.”

1926, One tour driver complained in 1926 that “if they (Dall sheep) get any tamer, they will be butting our cars off the road.”

1927, In contrast to earlier visitors to the central part of the park, Dixon and Wright found that sheep in this vicinity were difficult to approach and wary of people. Both commercial and private meat hunters had worked this area until just three year previously and poaching was not unknown. “We found the sheep tamer around Double Mountain than over by Muldrow Glacier,” Dixon wrote Sheldon. “Sheep are being shot right along by prospectors at Copper Mountain. In the east end of the park they are well protected and are doing well.”

1928, noticed a steady increase in bears, perhaps because poisoning finally had been reigned in, and they had been seen near the office and within 150 feet of tourists. “They displayed no alarm...but loped off at an easy gate after getting the scent.

1928, “The best way to get close to the sheep is simply walk towards them in an innocent manner, In this way one can get within 50 or 100 feet of one of their herds quite easily.” 

1946, General dale Gaffney "He also said that wolves "chase people into their automobiles" and denounced the "growing arrogance of Alaskan wolves."



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