This past summer, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game proposed extending the legal time for a trapper to check wolf snares from 72 hours to eight days. Designed to encourage more killing of wolves, this proposed rule could leave an animal to suffer for more than twice as long.
In Alaska and most areas across the northern Rocky Mountain states, where the vast majority of the wolves live in the West, wolf hunting season spans an extraordinarily long 6-12 months of the year. Arguably worse, the extremely antiquated and inhumane practice of trapping and snaring wolves is also permitted across much of the same regions. Trapping wolves is not only cruel to the trapped wolf, but is also devastating to the pack members left behind. We learned a lot about the trauma and devastation trapping and snaring causes for wolves and wolf families from the late wolf biologist Dr. Gordon Haber, while filming in and around Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
It was a leg-hold trap just outside the northeastern boundary of Denali that ensnared one of Gordon’s study animals, an alpha female, just before mating season. As Gordon watched, legally prohibited from helping her, the female suffered in a trap for two weeks before the trapper finally shot her. During the entire ordeal, her mate and offspring remained nearby, perhaps even by her side. It’s quite possible they brought food to her, desperate to help, but ultimately they were unable to keep her alive. When at last she was shot, her family fled the area.
The loyalty the alpha male displayed would have taught us enough, but his behavior over the next few weeks proved even more heartbreaking. When he left the trap site, he crossed back into the park and returned to the den where their pups had been born. There, the male dug through the snow and cleaned out the den, removing the leaves and loose soil, and readying it for a new litter of pups that he would never father. The following day, he traveled fourteen miles back to the spot where his mate had been trapped, searching frantically for her.
With you standing with us, Living with Wolves will always fight for wolves, as you expect us to, carefully monitoring decisionmakers and working every day to protect wolves, creating a safer world for them. We’re always aware that, without you, the hard work that’s needed would not be possible.
Jim and Jamie Dutcher,
Founders, Living with Wolves