2012 Annual Report Summary:
The winter of 2011–2012 was another good one for the Yukon-Charley wolves. Even though all the wolf packs that utilize Preserve lands routinely travel outside the Preserve boundary, there was very little travel of collared wolves, and based on the GPS data, there were no large forays by any collared packs beyond their typical home ranges. Staying within their home range all winter is somewhat unprecedented, being only the second time we have seen this (the other time being the winter of 2010–2011). For the past two winters, a large percentage of the Fortymile caribou herd wintered in the Charley River drainage, giving Preserve wolves plenty to eat and no reason to go on long distance forays to find enough to eat. The result is reduced dispersal, reduced mortality and a smaller drop in wolf numbers from fall to spring, which was 24% this past winter, despite eight wolves from the Lost Creek pack being shot from helicopters during Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s wolf control program. Overall, there was a fall mean pack size of 7.9 wolves (19-year average = 7.2) and a spring mean pack size of 5.5 wolves (19-year average = 5.0).
In spring (May – June), most packs localized at a wolf den, indicating the births of litters of pups. However, it appears that at least 3 packs may have lost their pups later in the summer. At this time, we do not know the cause of this apparent loss. Attempts this fall to count pups by radio telemetry have been severely hampered due to poor flying weather. We hope that by October and November we should have some idea of total numbers of wolves in each pack.
Learn more about current wolf monitoring and research being conducted in Yukon-Charley Rivers by downloading the 2012 Annual Wolf Monitoring Report (2.9mb PDF)