For Immediate Release
March 27, 2013
A TRIO OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT BILLS INTRODUCED BY REP. ANDREW JOSEPHSON SEEK TO REVAMP WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT IN ALASKA
The bills propose:
- RE-ESTABLISHING A WOLF PROTECTION AREA NEAR DENALI
- REPEALING INTENSIVE GAME MANAGEMENT
- MANDATING NON-CONSUMPTIVE REPRESENTATION ON THE BOARD OF GAME
Rep. Andrew Josephson (D-Anchorage) recently introduced three bills which would significantly alter the way wildlife is managed in Alaska.
HB 170 would create the “Gordon Haber Denali Wolf Special Management Area” adjacent to the north and eastern boundaries of Denali National Park and Preserve. Hunting and trapping for wolves would be banned within that area, a place where wolves from the Park frequently wander across the boundary onto State land in search of winter prey or mates.
Last year a local trapper lured, trapped and killed the alpha female of the Grant Creek Pack, one of the Park’s most easily viewed wolf packs, just across the Park boundary. As a result the pack did not produce pups and the remaining wolves dispersed. For years the Grant Creek pack had offered hundreds of thousands of Park visitors the best, most frequent opportunities to view wild wolves.
Wolf populations (and therefore viewing opportunities) have declined significantly in the Park due in part to trapping along the boundaries. The most recent official survey (Spring 2012) found a total of only 70 wolves in nine packs in the six million acre park – one of the lowest populations in decades.
Several times the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and other organizations have asked the Alaska Board of Game to re-establish a no-trapping “buffer zone” in this same area, without success. Such a zone existed prior to 2010, when the Board eliminated it and enacted a six-year moratorium on new proposals to re-create a no-trapping zone. The Board of Game unanimously denied two emergency petitions filed by AWA and others last fall to re-establish a protected area for the Park’s wolves. The Board of Game also refused to lift the moratorium.
The proposed Area is named for Dr. Gordon Haber, a well-known wolf biologist and noted researcher, who spent decades studying Denali’s wolves. Haber was killed in a plane crash while tracking radio-collared wolves in Denali in 2009.
HB 171 amends the current law mandating that Alaska’s wildlife be managed to produce an unnaturally high yield of moose, caribou and deer to increase hunting success, at the expense of predators such as wolves and bears. Commonly known as Intensive Management (IM), the policy was adopted in 1994 and since that time the program has been significantly and consistently expanded by the Board of Game. Under IM, killing methods such as aerial shooting of wolves, gassing wolf pups in dens, and baiting and snaring bears have been used. Most recently, the Board authorized aerial shooting of bears.
Scientists agree that such artificial manipulation of predator species is unwarranted, unscientific and unsustainable. The existing IM law turns Alaska into a “game farm” rather than a balanced, healthy ecosystem.
HB 171 would continue to permit predator control in two limited instances: supporting the constitutionally mandated principle of sustained yield, and when game populations are at risk.
HB 172 would require that at least one member to be appointed to the Board of Game “whose predominant use of game resources is non-consumptive, such as tourism, wildlife viewing, or scientific study.”
Currently, and for many years, the seven-member Board of Game has consisted entirely of members deeply vested in hunting and/or trapping, in many instances deriving their livelihoods directly or indirectly from those activities. Despite the wishes of a majority of Alaska residents, and the vital role of tourism and wildlife-viewing in the state’s economy, Gov. Sean Parnell and former governors Sarah Palin and Frank Murkowski all refused to appoint a non-consumptive member to the Board.
“As Alaska’s population increases we must hold onto our hunting ethics, including fair-chase principles, and manage our wildlife scientifically, rather than deteriorating into a game farm,” said Representative Josephson.
House Bills 170, 171 and 172 have been referred to the House Resources Committee.
Rep. Josephson previously served as president of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance board of directors. He currently serves on the organization’s advisory board.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Rep. Andrew Josephson
Tina M. Brown, AWA President
(907) 523-5402 (H)
(907) 209-4219 (C)
John Toppenberg, AWA Director
(907) 398-6798 (C)