Alaska is home to some of the most prized big game wildlife ? Grizzly, Caribou, Moose are among the most well known. However, Alaska is home to the largest remaining population of gray wolves in the United States. At Alaska Stock Images, you will find a wide variety of Alaska photos including wolves. To find more pictures of Alaska or pictures of wolves, visit our search page.
A wolf in Southeast Alaska
The wolf (canis lupus) is found throughout most of Alaska including some of the major islands and the Arctic. Wolf population varies but on average is around one wolf per every 25 square miles which ends up being? about 6,000 to 7,000 wolves roaming the state.
Only two Alaska subspecies are now recognized. Wolves in Southeast Alaska tend to be darker and somewhat smaller than those in northern parts of the state. The pelt color of wolves living in Alaska ranges from black to nearly white, with every shade of gray and tan between these extremes. Gray or black wolves are most common, and the relative abundance of each color phase varies over time and from place to place.
Male wolves vary in size from 85lbs to 115lbs and females weigh slightly less. Like most canines, wolves are highly sociable and depend on a pack to survive. Pack size can range from just two animals on up to as many as 30 ? although generally they are about . In Alaska the territory of a pack often includes from 300 to 1,000 square miles of habitat with the average being about 600 square miles. In spite of a generally high birth rate, wolves rarely become abundant because mortality is high. In much of Alaska, hunting and trapping are the major sources of mortality, although diseases, malnutrition, accidents, and particularly intraspecific strife act to regulate wolf numbers.
A wolf pack in Denali
Wolves are, of course, carnivores. In Alaska that means that moose and caribou are primary sources of food in most areas. However, Dall Sheep, Sitka black-tailed deer, mountain goats and beaver also are a major source of food for the wolf.
Alaska classifies wolves as both big game animals and furbearers, which means they can be hunted and trapped. Each year, more than 1,000 wolves are trapped or hunted. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, "Most of these harvest totals do not include unreported harvests which may equal or exceed the reported harvest...."
Wolf pups on a log
Wolves continue to be a source of controversy in the lower 48 as well as in Alaska due to the difficulty in having wolves in close proximity to people and livestock. In particular aerial hunting of wolves seems to cause the most controversy. However, as recently as February 2008, the wolf has been removed from the Endangered list by the Federal Government and populations are on the rise. One thing that both sides can agree on is finding the right balance where wolf packs can remain at a healthy number without interfering with man?s endeavors.