Viewing of wolves has long been high on the list of wildlife enthusiasts, but until ten years ago, seeing a wolf in the wild has been an extraordinarily difficult feat. In fact, I only saw a handful of wild wolves during my first ten years in Alaska, despite spending most of my time in the wilderness. They are among the most elusive animals on the planet. Presently Alaska has several excellent places to view wild wolves. In the past five years Katmai National Park, which has long been famous for viewing brown bears, has provided many visitors with incredible opportunites to observe and photograph wolves, which have learned to act like bears!
Thanks to the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone in 1995, thousands of people each year have the chance to see wolves in the wild. This has spawned an entire culture of wolf lovers, which starkly contrasts the traditional hatred of wolves by humans in history. In North America wolves were persecuted heavily since the European colonization until they neared extinction. Reintroduction efforts and federal protection has allowed wolves to make a strong comeback. In some areas of the west they have become so prolific, that hunting quotas have been reestablished. These controversial programs always face a wall of opposition by wolf lovers who value the wildness wolves bring to the land.
In Alaska where wolves have always been prolific, wolves also face predator control programs. Luckily vast national parks such as Katmai and Denali harbor numerous wolves which are protected from hunting and trapping, as long as they don’t wander out of the park. Ecotourism is the largest force which drives opposition of predator control in Alaska, because like Yellowstone it is a spectacular place to see wild wolves, and many people come from all over the world to try.
Denali has always been famous for its opportunities to see wolves. The open tundra and high wolf populations allow for very good success rates. But in the last five years, Katmai has become well known for its wolves who act like bears!
During the summer of 2007 bear watchers at the famous Brooks Falls platform were surprised to see a lone female wolf darting down to catch salmon right amongst the bears! During one period, the wolf caught 15 salmon in an hour, and was thought to be passing the fish off to young, growing pups. It is thought that the wolf learned to fish by watching bears while it was feeding on scraps on the riverbank. Check out this video to see the female wolf in action!
Natural Habitat’s Hidden Alaska Expedition provides an excellent opportunity to look for wolves both in Denali National Park, and Brooks Falls in the same trip, as well giving opportunities to see tidewater glaciers and marine wildlife of Kenai Fjords National Park, North America’s highest mountain, lots of grizzly bears, a host other wildlife and more.