Although I strongly disagree with some of Dr.Haber's conclusions, this is a major blow for those with an interest in wolves. The data he collected about the Tolkat wolf pack and the lifetime of intimate knowledge of this important wolf pack is invaluable to wildlife managers, trappers, hunters, and other advocates of wolves.

The state of Alaska has lost an important citizen. His voice will be missed.



An aerial search was under way Thursday across the northern half of 6-million acre Denali National Park and Preserve where a single-engine plane with a noted wolf biologist went missing.

The biologist, Dr. Gordon Haber, has been studying wolves in the park since 1966. He left Wednesday on a flight to check on some wolf packs, according to John Quinley, the Park Service's assistant regional director for communications in Anchorage, Alaska.

“He was not working with us, he does independent work. They left in a Cessna 185 and were supposed to return by evening yesterday," Mr. Quinley said. "We got notified about midnight that the plane was overdue. We’re working with state troopers on a search. Seven aircraft flying at this point, trending on the north side of the park. The flight plan said they were going to be looking for wolf packs, and that’s where the wolves tend to be. At this point we don’t have any real specific information. Saying the north side of Denali is a fairly sweeping statement."

The plane was piloted by Daniel McGregor, a local independent pilot, according to Mr. Quinley.

Dr. Haber long has been critical of Alaska's wolf management plans, particularly their hunting and trapping regulations, Mr. Quinley said.

“He has been an advocate for stronger protection of wolves, particularly on the northern and eastern boundaries of Denali, which in various configurations have been open to trapping in recent years, outside the park’s boundary," the Park Service spokesman said. "His concern was, in part, that those wolves on the eastern end, some of the packs, have been studied going way way back, back to when (Adolph) Murie was working in Denali, and he saw a danger if those long-studied packs were eliminated by trapping or hunting that that’s a significant loss for the park and park visitors.

"He also saw that some of those eastern wolves, they’re protected in the park and they wander around particularly close to people at various times of years and they wander outside the park, in the spring, and if they wander close to people they wind up dead, in traps particularly," said Mr. Quinley.

The biologist also has urged the Park Service to do more to protect Denali's wolves, according to Mr. Quinely.

"Our sorts of differences of opinion with him, we have been looking at wolf populations in Denali, and he looks very much at packs and individuals," he said.
From the News Miner (Fairbanks):

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The fiery wreckage of a small plane that was carrying a pilot and a wolf biologist who went missing in Denali National Park was found Thursday with human remains inside.

An Alaska State Trooper confirmed that there were human remains in the plane. However, impending darkness prevented the trooper from investigating further.

Park spokeswoman Kris Fister said the white and blue Cessna 185 that had carried biologist Gordon Haber, 67, and pilot Daniel McGregor, 35, was spotted Thursday afternoon in some trees on a mountainside near the east fork of the Toklat River about seven miles north of the park road.

The wreckage was spotted by an aerial search team at about 3 p.m. A search plane then landed on a gravel river bar about one-half mile below the crash site, Fister said.

An Alaska State Trooper hiked to the scene of the crash where the trooper found that the plane was substantially damaged and had burned. The trooper was able to determine that there were human remains in the plane.

The plane took off at about noon Wednesday and was supposed to return by nightfall. The Park Service was notified at about midnight that the plane was overdue.

Fister said a flight plan indicated the two men from Denali Park were looking for wolf packs. Thursday's search was focused on the north side of the park because that is where wolves tend to be, she said.

Haber, an independent biologist who for decades has studied Denali's wolves, was a frequent visitor to the 6 million-acre park in south-central Alaska and well known among Alaska's conservation community.

It was not known where Haber intended to look for wolves on Wednesday.

Denali National Park has about 100 wolves and more than a dozen wolf packs, including the Toklat pack that are some of the most viewed and researched wolves in the world. Visitors to the park traveling in buses occasionally see wolves from the park road, usually members of the Toklat pack.

For years, Haber pushed for greater protections for the wolves when they venture outside park boundaries and onto state lands where they can be hunted and trapped. Two years ago he was angered when as many as 19 wolves, including four collared wolves, were killed outside the northeast boundary of the park and outside a no-trapping buffer zone.

An entry on his Web site in March said the Toklat pack remained at 11 wolves, including five to six pups, down from 14 to 17 wolves in late January.

Haber said the information was garnered from his research flights.

"He has been here and doing research in this area for many years," Fister said.

Fister said a C-130 aircraft was used Wednesday night in an attempt to pick up the plane's emergency locator if it had been activated, but no signal was detected.

The weather in the park on Wednesday was clear with some low-lying fog banks. Winds were calm. On Thursday, the weather was mostly overcast with a trace of snow.