A Great Trip Needs An Extraordinary Destination ...Hallo Bay? ABSOLUTELY

Friday, March 14, 2014

World of Wolves

The wolf occurs throughout mainland Alaska, on Unimak Island in the Aleutians, and on all of the major islands in Southeast except Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof. This range includes about 85 percent of Alaska's 586,000 square-mile area. Wolves are adaptable and exist in a wide variety of habitats extending from the rain forests of the Southeast Panhandle to the arctic tundra along the Beaufort Sea. Alaska is home to an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 wolves. They are found in nearly all of their historic range, excepting the center of urban areas, although they are found on the outskirts of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Wolves are common over much of the state. The highest densities occur in Southeast Alaska, where Sitka black-tailed deer serve as the major food source for wolves. Wolf densities are lowest in the coastal portions of western and northern Alaska. Although the distribution of wolves has remained relatively constant in recent times, their abundance is influenced by harvest levels, diseases, and prey availability.

Genetic evidence suggests that as Alaska deglaciated following the most recent glacial maximum and animals colonized the newly exposed areas, wolves from the contiguous Western United States entered Southeast Alaska, likely following the northward expansion of black-tailed deer along the coast. Wolves in Interior Alaska are likely descended from animals that inhabited Beringia during the ice age, and wolves in Southeast are genetically distinctive from "continental" wolves.

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