Protected in some national parks, wolves can hunt, breed, and raise their families without fear of humans. Watching the daily activities of those park wolves brings joy to tens of thousands of visitors. But wolves can't see park boundary lines, and once they step outside they can become legal trophies for a few hunters or trappers.
This conflict between watching or killing wolves occurs in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Banff National Park in Alberta, and Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory, according to Bridget Borg, in her recently published Ph.D. dissertation, "Effects of Harvest on Wolf Social Structure, Population Dynamics, and Viewing Opportunities in National Parks."
Borg analyzed how the loss of a breeding wolf in Denali changes the stability and growth of the breeder's pack. She studied packs that had dissolved in Denali from 1986 to 2012. She found that breeder loss preceded the break up of 53 packs (three-quarters of those that had dissolved). She found that packs were more likely to dissolve if a female or both breeders were lost and pack size was small. In other words, taking out a breeder can kill an entire pack.