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Salmon is on the Menu for Lake Clark's Wolves

posted Mar 17, 2018, 8:13 PM by chloe owens

1/19/2018, by J. Besl, Frontiersman

Salmon is on the menu for Lake Clark’s wolves

Deep within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, staff at a remote ranger station on the north shore of Telaquana Lake noted something amiss. Wolves, a mighty apex predator of the park, were seen scraping fish carcasses from the ice. Though odd, the observation made sense. Wolves are opportunists and Lake Clark, situated at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, is flush with fish. Likewise, salmon make a relatively safe dinner. While moose fight back and can break a wolf’s legs, salmon simply flop or freeze…It kind of prompted this question of how frequently this is happening and what’s going on,” explained Ashley Stanek, who studied wolf diets in Lake Clark for her graduate thesis in biology at University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). The results of that collaborative project between the National Park Service, UAA, and UAA’s Environment and Natural Resources Institute were published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology in 2017, with Stanek as the lead author…fur and blood samples arrived in UAA’s stable isotope lab, where Stanek and her postdoctoral colleague Dr. Nathan Wolf – now a professor at Alaska Pacific University – parsed the samples for indicators of salmon diet…The results were incredibly varied. One wolf ate up to 89 percent salmon in a season while elsewhere in the park another ate only one percent. Wolves, it appeared, have preferences.