The buffer zone, as proposed in 2012

Denali wolves need your help – again!

Your comments are urgently needed (for a second attempt!) to help get a no wolf hunting/trapping buffer proposal on the Board of Game’s March meeting agenda.

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance and the Denali Citizens Council have prepared an updated Agenda Change Request (ACR #18) and proposal asking the Alaska Board of Game yet again for a buffer zone on state lands adjacent to the northeastern boundary of Denali National Park.

The National Park Service (Denali) also filed an ACR/proposal (ACR #20), asking the Board to shorten the wolf hunting season on lands in the proposed buffer area. Last spring, several wolves from Denali’s East Fork pack were attracted to bear baiting stations outside of the park and were killed by hunters. Currently the annual bear baiting season begins April 15 and the wolf hunting season ends May 31, a six-week overlap. NPS proposes changing the wolf season to end on April 15, eliminating the overlap and making it illegal to kill wolves near the bait.

However, before these proposals can be considered at the Board’s next meeting (beginning March 18) the Board must first approve the ACRs.

Background:

The Board of Game removed the previous no-take wolf buffer on state land adjacent to the park in 2010, and at the same time approved a six-year moratorium prohibiting the presentation of any new buffer proposals until 2016. However, in the interim the BOG revised its meeting schedule and delayed consideration of Interior Region (including Denali area) proposals from 2016 to 2017. Since the buffer ended and the moratorium began, the Denali-area wolf population has dropped to record lows; the additional harvest of the wolves near bait stations last year exacerbated the decline. Unless these ACRs are approved, the Denali wolf issues will not be discussed at the March meeting.

This is our last chance to get a buffer proposal before the Board this year – its next scheduled meeting is in March 2017.

Suggested talking points are below.

Comment deadline:         Noon (Alaska time) Thursday, January 21. (We apologize for the very short notice – the ACRs were only accepted and posted by the BOG mid-afternoon on Tuesday)

Send your comments via:

Email:   http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=process.comments

(teleconference meeting)

or

Fax: 907-465-6094

Please note the Board’s instructions regarding comments:Please limit your comments to reasons why the ACRs should or should not be scheduled for the 2016 Statewide Regulations meeting. General comments in support of or opposition to any of the issues in each ACR are not relevant to this meeting.”

The Board will consider these ACRs at a special teleconference meeting Friday, January 22 at 3:00 p.m. The meeting agenda and the ACRs can be found at:
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.meetinginfo.

The Board will accept only written comments submitted prior to the meeting; there will be no public testimony. A live audio stream of the meeting will be available at: www.boardofgame.adfg.alaska.gov .

Talking points to the Board (please feel free to put them into your own words):

  • Please vote “yes” to approve ACR #18 (AWA and DCC’s wolf buffer) and ACR #20 (NPS’ proposal to shorten the wolf hunting season).
  • Regarding the buffer proposal, the Board’s 2010 decision clearly stated the moratorium was for a six-year period, meaning its expiration coincides with the March 2016 meeting. The current Board should honor the intent of that decision. The interim change to a meeting schedule that postpones the Interior Region proposals to 2017 is not a valid reason for stretching the moratorium to seven years.
  • The diminished Denali-area wolf population is clearly a conservation issue. According to the park’s most recent fall survey, the wolf population remains at a near-record-low number. Moreover, the five packs in the eastern areas of the park – the wolves that are most easily visible to visitors and are most vulnerable to hunting/trapping when they cross onto adjacent state land – totaled just 27 wolves. That is identical to the spring 2015 number, indicating no population growth among the five packs last year.
  • Reducing the length of the wolf hunting season certainly would help stem some of the population losses; however, a no-harvest buffer area is necessary to halt the more significant season-long losses to hunters and trappers.

* * *

Please take a few minutes to send your comments to the Board of Game. If you have sent comments in the past, thank you. Please don’t be discouraged – we’re not. It is vitally important that the Board receive as many positive messages as possible asking them to approve these ACRs and protect the Denali wolves.