Protected Wolves in Alaska Face Peril From Beyond Their Preserve – NY Times, 7/14/17

By , in the New York Times

Within the 2.5 million acres of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in central Alaska, wolves and other majestic animals are protected. But animals like wolves do not respect lines drawn on a map. And a recent study suggests that efforts to limit populations of these predators outside those borders is having negative effects on wolves living within the preserve.

The study, published in June in Wildlife Monographs, suggests that when the Alaskan authorities were limiting wolf populations outside the Yukon-Charley preserve, survival rates of wolves within the preserve were lower than usual. The findings highlight the notion that managing wildlife within human-imposed boundaries requires communication and cooperation with the authorities beyond a preserve’s boundaries, and could have implications for wildlife management programs elsewhere.

Read the full article at the New York Times

Read the study itself here.

Killing predators isn’t always wise game management – ADN opinion 7/16/17

From Alaska Dispatch News, by Vic Van Ballenberghe, July 16, 2017

“In 1994, Alaska’s Legislature passed the Intensive Management Law intended to increase populations of moose, caribou and deer and thereby provide increased harvests for hunters. Hunting organizations supported the bill that paved the way for large-scale predator control programs. The prevailing model crafted at the time by Department of Fish and Game biologists predicted that in nearly all cases, reducing wolves and bears would increase moose and caribou numbers and would ultimately benefit hunters. The Board of Game eagerly adopted this model and vigorously applied it after 2002 across a broad area of the state. Thousands of wolves and bears were killed as part of intensive management programs featuring controversial, extreme methods including public aerial shooting of wolves, gassing of wolf pups in dens, trapping bears and shooting bears from helicopters.

From the beginning, some biologists warned that managing wildlife was far more complex than simply reducing predators. We knew that predation sometimes limited prey numbers, but other factors often overshadowed predation. These included food quantity and quality, severe winters, dry summers and hunting. We stressed the importance of conducting field studies before implementing predator control, during control to monitor progress and after control to evaluate effectiveness. But some of the approved control programs lacked the necessary studies and information to justify, implement, monitor and evaluate predator reductions…

…My own analysis of statewide moose harvests before and after aggressive, intensive management showed no significant increase in harvests as a result of reducing predators. Intensive management didn’t result in larger moose harvests despite an increase of about 5,000 hunters per year on average during aggressive management programs.”

Read the full article at Alaska Dispatch News

 

Alaska House Passes HB105 Denali Wolf Buffer Bill

From Alaska Dispatch, May 19th, 2017. Article by Nathaniel Hertz

“The state Legislature opened a new front this week in a long-running war between supporters and opponents of wolf trapping near Denali National Park and Preserve — with sportsman’s advocates on one side and proponents of tourism and conservation on the other.

In one of its last actions of the regular legislative session, the Alaska House voted 22-18 on Wednesday to pass a bill that protects wolves from trappers in two areas adjoining the park — a move aimed at giving visitors more chances to see the animals, though it’s opposed by the state Board of Game. It also faces long odds in the Senate…

…House Bill 105 would create a 530-square-mile buffer zone northeast of the park where wolf hunting and certain traps and snares are banned.”

Read the full article at Alaska Dispatch

Read the press release from the bill’s sponsor, Rep Andy Josephson, here.

 

Alert: Two extraordinarily important bills need your comments this week 3/20/17

URGENT! Please support pending legislation to 1) dedicate seats on the Board of Game for non-consumptive users, and 2) stop wolf hunting and trapping adjacent to Denali National Park

House Bill 134, which would require at least one non-consumptive user and one tourism representative to be seated on the seven-member Board of Game, will come up for its first public hearing in the House Resources Committee this week. HB 105 (Denali wolf buffer area) is scheduled for a continued public hearing at the same time.

The teleconferenced public hearings on both bills are scheduled for:

Monday, March 20 and

Wednesday, March 22

both begin at 1:00 pm.

 

There are several ways to give input on HB 134 and HB 105:

  • At your local Legislative Information Office you may testify via teleconference. Locations are listed here. http://akleg.gov/lios.php LIO staff will help with the process, and you can also submit a written copy of your comments.
  • Call in to the hearing directly: (844) 586-9085. The wait time to speak will depend on how many others are calling in.

 

HB 134, which would mandate two non-consumptive members on the Board of Game, is critical to nearly every wildlife issue we face in Alaska.

We cannot over-emphasize the importance of everyone speaking up in support of this bill! If we do not support it, we cannot complain when the Board of Game continues its “business as usual” managing wildlife for hunters and trappers.

Introduced by Anchorage Rep. Andy Josephson, HB 134 states in part:

“In making board member appointments, the governor is directed to consider a diversity of interests and points of view. Unfortunately, past and present board appointments have favored consumptive interests and failed to include sufficient representation for non-consumptive interests.

Alaska’s wildlife is more than a hunting opportunity for many Alaskans and visitors. Wildlife viewing, photography, and scientific research carry value such that it is worth having non-consumptive interests represented on the Board of Game.”

Read the full bill here. http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/30?Hsid=HB0134A

 

HB 105 would close an area on state land adjacent to the northeastern park boundary to hunting and trapping of wolves. (Read the full bill here:

http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/30?Hsid=HB0105A )

This area roughly overlaps the Wolf Townships/Stampede Corridor where we have been fighting for years to get a buffer approved by the Board of Game. (The most recent buffer proposal was unanimously defeated by the BOG in February.)

Note: The hearing times for HB 105 (Denali wolf buffer), are for those who have not previously testified on the bill. If you have already testified, it is not necessary to do so again.

Lawmakers need to hear loud and clear that we enthusiastically support these bills!

As co-chair of the House Resources Committee, Andy is in a position to (hopefully) champion these bills through that committee. If they advance to other committee(s) and the full House, their future is less certain. Nevertheless it is a great accomplishment and true progress that we can get these and other pending wildlife-related bills to public hearings. Please tell Andy that you support his efforts and his pending legislation. He is a dedicated supporter of wildlife and environmental issues – we owe him a huge “thank you”!

Again, it is imperative that we make our voices heard on these bills.

Thank you.

P.S. We apologize for the short notice; these hearings are scheduled by the legislature on short notice.

Board of Game bias isn’t based on science: ADN opinion, 3/13/17

Opinion from Alaska Dispatch News, by Bill Sherwonit

Read the original article here.

“Hiding behind science, the Alaska Board of Game continues to push an extreme agenda, one that is overwhelmingly biased toward hunters and trappers at the expense of our state’s wolves and bears, no matter the circumstances. And despite the fact that the board’s own “science” is sometimes suspect.

The most recent example of the Game Board’s narrow-minded — and, I would argue, regressive — approach to wildlife management came in Fairbanks, where in late February it unanimously rejected proposals to reinstate a no-kill wolf buffer on state lands that border Denali National Park…

…The Game Board repeatedly approved buffers of various sizes and shapes between 2000 and 2008, and some sort of zone providing additional protections to “Denali wolves” existed for a decade. And when the board voted to eliminate the buffer in 2010, it did so by the narrowest of margins, 4-3, a decision fueled not by science but anti-feds fervor.

Apparently, the reasoning and science that the board used in supporting a buffer the first decade of this century no longer applies.”

Read the rest of this article at Alaska Dispatch News