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Riley the wolf has died. She lived in the wild until almost the age of 11, which biologists call a remarkable feat. Wolves are lucky to live to 6.

The female wolf, former leader of the once-mighty Riley Creek pack in Denali National Park, drowned in an open lead of the Nenana River on March 9, 2020.

Area residents pulled her body from the river and informed biologists at Denali National Park. Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game wildlife health veterinarian Kimberlee Beckmen performed a necropsy.

I wrote about Riley in February 2019, when I noticed her bobbing through the snow on the side of the Parks Highway not far from Healy and Denali National Park. The female wolf with the leather satellite-tracking collar surprised me by not running away or otherwise seeming to notice my car, idling 30 feet away. Then, she disappeared into roadside brush.

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