Watch CBSN Live

The Wolves Of Denali

CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone recently spent time in a part of America many never set foot in. He came face to face with an animal most people rarely see, but it is now in peril because of its human neighbors. Blackstone filed this Reporter's Notebook sharing his experiences.
Leo and Dorothy Keeler are Alaskan wildlife photographers who claim to have "Wolf Karma." If you want to see wolves in Denali National Park stick close to Leo and Dorothy. Chances are you won't be disappointed.

Of course sticking close to the Keelers means rising well before dawn, driving long distances over bad roads and sitting patiently and quietly for many hours...staying alert for wolves from first light until after sunset.

To see the Toklat wolves we followed the Keelers into Denali. Over the last decade Leo and Dorothy feel they have almost become adopted members of this wolf family. They say the Toklats have honored them by letting them photograph the family up close on many occasions.

John Blackstone

But the Keelers aren't the only photographers who have grown to appreciate the Toklats. This wolf family may well be the most photographed wild wolves anywhere on earth. Usually wolves don't reveal themselves to humans but the Toklats have grown comfortable enough with people that they don't mind being seen by humans.

Many tourists visiting Alaska want to see two wild animals: grizzly bears and wolves. In Denali if tourists see wolves they are almost certainly members of the Toklat family. But that trusting humans also puts the Toklats at risk.

On November 1, trapping season opened in Alaska. If the Toklat wolves wander just a few feet outside park boundaries they can now be legally trapped. The Keelers worry that when they return to Denali next spring the Toklats might not be there if the wolves don't soon get some special protection.

To see more of Leo and Dorothy Keelers' photographs of the Toklat wolves go to:

For John Blackstone's report, go to When Wolves Get Too Friendly

Back to the Wilds of Alaska Home Page