Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Wolf Tracks on Ice

Gates of the Arctic National
Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA
By Carl Johnson
Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Carl Johnson

Now recovering from endangered status in some states, wolf populations are managed in a delicate balance that provokes debate between conservationists and wildlife control authorities. This environmental issue will likely remain in dispute for generations to come. Through public forums and advocacy from all sides of the topic, the years ahead will hopefully uncover ways in which these wild predators and humans may coexist and thrive. This symbolic image represents the past history of the wolf and the path of its future as it treads “on thin ice”—a visual metaphor for steps made forward and the tracks left behind in the climate of ongoing controversy.

“I was mushing up the North Fork of the Koyukuk River with park ranger Zack Richter when we stopped to give the dog team a rest. Looking around, I saw these wolf prints clinging to the sheer ice. A wolf had passed through when there was a thin layer of snow on the ice and the stiff wind had blown away loose snow, leaving the prints behind. Seeing those tracks added to the magic of being in such a wild place in the cold of winter.” —CJ

Nikon D300; A-FS 24-85mm ƒ/2.8-4.5 lens at 35mm; 1/80 sec at ƒ/22; ISO 400; hand-held.