Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Encounters with aggressive wolves on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage have prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to issue orders to eliminate the animals on the base. Division of Wildlife Conservation Regional Supervisor Mark Burch says military and Fish and Game personnel have set snares on the base’s grounds, and were also shooting wolves on sight.
Burch says only one wolf has been killed so far, out of approximately a dozen wolves on the base.
Alaska State Troopers have issued a summons to a Healy man for possessing wolf hybrids. DNA tests confirmed two dogs belonging to Terry Delbene as part wolf. Wolf hybrids are illegal due to public safety concerns, and fears a runaway animal might introduce disease or unwanted traits to the wild wolf population. Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters says they received a tip about the Healy wolf dogs.
Some claim it’s too difficult to distinguish wolves and dogs, but hybrids are among animals illegal to own in Alaska and many other states. Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathy Harms says a decade ago, the Alaska Board of Game took action to specifically identify and outlaw wolf dogs.
The law grandfathered in existing wolf hybrids registered by 2002. There are numerous groups and websites devoted to wolf dog ownership and care, and thousands of the animals are held as pets. Some look like malamutes and huskies, while others appear to be actual wolves. Most owners claim the animals are gentle, and loyal, but possess high energy and require heavy duty confinement. Harms says despite their genetic similarities, dogs and wolves are different, and hybrids present a threat.
The State Troopers Peters says the Healy wolf dogs are securely housed, and the animals remain safe with their owners. Possessing wolf hybrids is a class A misdemeanor, but Peters stresses the Healy case will have to play out in court. She says Troopers only occasionally charge wolf dog owners, but that it can result in animals being confiscated and killed. The alleged wolf hybrid owner, Terry Delbene could not be reached for comment.
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