Denali National Park and Preserve’s wolf numbers have reached a record low this spring with an estimated population of just 48, according to a Park Service study.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that Park Service estimates the wolf population twice each year since 1986 using radio collard wolves and analysis of the few un-collared wolves.
The park’s Chief Wildlife Biologist Steve Arthur says the population decline can be attributed to low snowfall, which made it easier for prey to flee from the wolves, and better tracking technology. The tracking expands biologists understanding of the wolves’ home range, which is used to estimate the population.
Wolf advocates say this shows the need to reinstate a wolf-protection buffer zone that banned trapping in an area directly outside the park until 2008.