A Toklat Wolf Experience Denali National Park & Preserve

By Dorothy & Leo Keeler / Wildlife Photographers / Wolf Song of Alaska Members

"... In 1990, at 6:00 a.m., we were driving the road into the park, approaching the Toklat river at about mile 50. We saw a lone wolf walking down the middle of the road, and slowed down to follow it. It continued down the road, came around the bend, and there stood another adult ... with 5 six-week old puppies. We were astonished, as we had never heard of puppies this young ever being seen near the road in the park. These wolves had no fear of humans. Several of the puppies approached within 10 feet of the car. The adults were so unconcerned with our presence that they eventually disappeared into the bushes, and were content to leave their puppies playing in the middle of the road. We worked with them for almost two hours as they disappeared into the bushes and returned to the road again and again ...

This is by no means the only time we have worked with the Toklat pack. Two years ago, we worked with a young female for 3 ½ hours and got 31 rolls of film of her before she headed out ('Wild Eyes' and 'Wilderness Morning') She often walked within 10-20 feet from us as she continued to hunt, unconcerned with our presence. When we discovered that the Toklat wolves had declined to just two adult members, we were heartbroken to think "Wild Eyes" may be dead after she had trusted us so completely."

Leo and Dorothy Keeler are local wildlife photographers whose work has been featured in National Geographic, Life, Smithsonian, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Field and Stream, People, and Alaska Magazine. The above excerpt was taken from a letter written to Alaska Governor Tony Knowles on August 7, 1998.

"Reprinted with permission from the Alaska Wildlife Alliance"