Denalis Wolves National Park

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Argumentative essay 12/15/2004 Denali’s Wolves For many years my family and I have traveled around the country to visit our and view the wildlife they protect. I’ve been from Hawaii to Maine to the Virgin Islands. My favorite memories as a child are those of camping with my family in these national parks. One of the few parks I have not had the pleasure of visiting is Denali National Park in Alaska. Last year while reading a magazine, I learned of something that troubled me very much.

There was an article about wolves and how you can see them living in their natural habitat just by driving through the park. After reading this article, I wanted to visit Denali and see these amazing creatures, but these wolves are being slowly eradicated. Our national parks are supposed to protect wildlife, and preserve a small portion of land for our children. If we allow these wolves to decay into history we will be disrupting a fragile ecosystem and disappointing future generations.

If enough people support the outright protection of these creatures we will be able to share their beauty with the world forever. Our society has adopted a belief that no one person can make a difference. Americans see negative things hopping in our country and hope that someone will make changes, but are afraid of taking action themselves. This kind of thinking is called de individuation. Deindividuation into a group results in a loss of individual identity and a gaining of the social identity of the group.

The three most important factors for de individuation in a group of people are: Anonymity, so I can not be found out. Diffused responsibility, so I am not responsible for my actions. Group size, as a larger group increases the above two factors (Deindividuation). Our society has made anonymity, and diffused responsibility part of our everyday lives. If you choose not to help conserve the wolves of Denali you won’t be discovered or persecuted, you can go on living your life.

Anonymity is something we need to make it through the day or we would be bothered by everyone with a different request. Diffused responsibility is where we can find most of our society’s problems. There is always that voice in the back of our heads telling us that someone else feels the same way we do and is going to do something about it. We rationalize with ourselves and put the blame on society. When we feel in our core that something must be done but brush the responsibility onto society’s shoulders we are lying to ourselves. Denali National Park is home to the majority of our nation’s and the world’s most frequently viewed wolf population.

This summer alone 30, 000 tourists experienced these wolves without even leaving their vehicles. Denali is Alaska’s number one tourist attraction, and covers more than 6 million acres. It began as Mt. McKinley National Park in 1917, but wasn’t until 1980 that the name was change to Denali National Park. People travel to Denali to view Mt.

McKinley (America’s highest mountain) and its famed wolves. Wolves are amazing creatures that stack up to be more than your average canine. Wolves can stake claim to territories recorded to be over 800 miles. Average wolf packs usually consist of 8-10 wolves, but one Denali pack recorded 27 members plus 3 pups.

They have the ability to hunt caribou, moose, Dall sheep, beaver, and ground squirrel. They use howling and scent marking to scare of rival packs. They also show us their rank in the pack by the position in which they carry their tale. They accomplish all this with a brain twice the size of a domestic dog, and extremely developed social skills. Not only are these wolves the most famous in the world, one group is the world’s oldest known family lineage of any nonhuman social vertebrate in the wild. These wolves belong to the Toklat wolf pack.

They are the first group of wolves to be studied in their natural habitat and are of major scientific significance. They have been seen and photographed more then any other group of wolves. If they die, so do the memories of thousands of people. Another famous Denali wolf pack is the Margaret pack. Named after Mount Margaret this pack lives nearest the park entrance and main road.

The Margaret pack is the fifth pack in the parks history to inhabit this area. The first four packs were eradicated by trappers and other humans. Due to the history of the wolves before them, if any wolves need our protection it’s the Margaret pack. They are the first wolves you see as you drive into the park and this is an experience which must be preserved. In a state where tourism ranks as one of the top industries, surely these two wolf families can be protected for wildlife viewing benefits. This equals just 11 wolves out of approximately 7, 000 believed to exist in the State! (Protect Denali’s…

). How important is it for Alaskans and visitors to be able to view wolves in the wild, particularly wolves that are so approachable that they all but pose for photos? And if it can be established that a particular group of wolves has a 60-year lineage versus a five-year span, what difference does that make? Does an historic i. d. make them any more worthy of protection from hunters? These are several of the questions currently dividing Alaskan environmental activists and government scientists (Christiansen). The wolves of Denali have never been aggressive toward humans so why are we killing them? The number of wolves in the Toklat pack are at their lowest ever. These wolves can venture into state lands where they can be hunted, trapped, or contract diseases from domestic animals.

In 1983 an entire pack known as the Savage were completely eradicated by one hunter. In 1996, Alaska’s voters banned the practice of shooting wolves from aircraft (Under the Gun). Just when it looks like Alaskans’ are beginning to wise up and realize that wolves are more then cattle you can mow down they compromise. despite of recent public support to limit predator control measures, the Alaska Board of Game just passed a regulation that allows hunters to shoot wolves from a moving snowmobile (Daerr).

Do our representatives really believe it’s fair for us to be able to kill wolves from snowmobiles? Hunters would say that they are allowed to do this because it’s too hard to find them unless you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Well, maybe it’s too hard to kill them because we ” re not supposed to kill them. We already use firearms that shoot hundreds of yards, now we ” re allowing hunters the opportunity of killing these animals without even standing up. Wolves have been contracting a virus called the which is transmitted by dogs. This virus causes severe problems with reproduction and the survival of pups. In 1998 the Toklat pack fell to only 2 members.

Luckily they survived to produce 4 pups. The alpha male of one pack was killed while a researcher was attempting to study the virus in 1993, and in 1995 an alpha female contracted the virus. She was the sole survivor of the Headquarters pack which is now extinct. Many of Denali’s wolves have become too comfortable around humans.

Some believe this is good because it increases the chances of seeing wolves. What happens though when the human isn’t a tourist admiring the wolves, but a hunter looking for his next trophy? The fact that many wolves no longer fear humans makes them easy prey. They will only become more and more adapt to humans unless we take action now. Some groups in Alaska and around the nation have shown concern for the wolves but their support is not adequate. Defenders of Wildlife developed a wolf encounter education program designed to teach visitors and residents the proper way that one should view the remaining wolves. Campgrounds within the park have been closed because of visitor’s interactions with wolves.

Many wolves have even been killed in confrontations. I am concerned about the pictures featured in the article about Denali’s wolves. Two photos show visitors out of their vehicles photographing wolves at close range. Is this how you want to advertise safety (for both wolves and visitors) at Denali? Visitors of our national parks should be educated on how to view wildlife from a safe distance (Holder). Maybe trying to teach campers the rules isn’t good enough.

Perhaps we should require campers to take courses before they are allowed to use the park. With all that people know today about wolves why aren’t they being preserved properly? After many years of debates and temporary programs the Alaska Board of Game finally closed a 19-square mile area and created two buffer zones outside the park boundaries where Denali wolf packs roam. These buffer zones are created to keep the wolves from being hunted or trapped but they are not nearly enough. Many people who are fighting to keep these wolves alive were initially content with the compromise but soon realized little was being done.

They believe these buffer zones only delay the eradication of these wolves. People are the problem, he says, not the environment. If there’s a major disruption in the pack, as when the dominate alpha wolves are killed, the family group is disrupted. He describes pups as the social glue that holds the family group together; if a pack has a spring with no pups, or the pups are killed before the end of a summer, the pack is likely to disperse (Christiansen). Why can’t we see that wolves are like humans and deserving of our respect and protection? When regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association’s Alaska-based staff was asked about the issue of preserving the wolves he said,” Where else can the average visitor hope to see wolves? It’s obvious these wolves have great value.

We need to do what we can to protect them.” In 1999 CBS evening news with Dan Rather featured the Toklat Wolves of Denali National Park during “Eye on America.” This is one rare example of national exposure for these magnificent creatures. They need to be receiving more of the kind of attention they deserve. We need to do something soon to protect and support the wolves of one of our country’s favorite national parks. They need extra land around park borders to roam and live without fear. Stricter laws regarding hunting and trapping must be created. We must to give back to the wolves for all they have given us.

Do not let society hypnotize us into thinking nothing can be done. Voting is not the only role we can play in our government. Taking an active role in such issues as conserving wildlife could help our country more than you know. We have to open our ears and hear these wolves crying out to us.

With everyday that goes by more and more damage is being done. Living our entire lives as another anonymous member of American society doesn’t improve our world at all. Everyone should strive to leave a mark on history once their gone. This is our chance to change the course of history. We shouldn’t fear the hunters or trappers; we should fear the indifference of regular people. Works Cited Christiansen, Scott “Survival of the cutest Naturalists disagree about the fate of the Toklat wolves – and their identity.” Anchorage Press.

March. 11, 199 Daerr, Elizabeth G. “Safety Zone Set for Denali Wolves.” National Parks Magazine May/June. 2000: 15″Deindividuation” Changing Minds.

org ” Denali’s Wolves: Under the Gun.” Earth Island Journal 12 (1997): 15 Holder, Amanda. Letter. National Parks Magazine Sep/Oct. 2003″Protect Denali’s Wolves From The Alaska Wildlife Alliance” Freedom Writer Feb.

20, 2002.

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